Dan and Hannah Are Lost on the Arizona Trail in Flagstaff, Arizona

Old Man Winter’s Nicer Uncle Sol has bestowed a gift upon us this first week of March.  Rather than the normal highs in the upper 40s, today in 7000’ Flagstaff, Arizona, we have been promised 70F.  Driving north from Tucson, we have plans to hike in Flagstaff 260 miles away today and then tomorrow – the Granddaddy of them all- The Grand Canyon.

BP map of AZ better

Waking early in the pitch black of the desert before rush hours, we head north on I-10 past Picacho Peak, Casa Grande, and Florence.  Arriving in the Phoenix Metro morning rush hours, we have the highway gods smiling on us!  There is an HOV lane!   While we cruise along at 65 mph, traffic to our right is crawling along at 15 mph.   Feeling like lottery winners, we are soon past congested Tempe and on through Phoenix itself.

Taking I-17 north on another beloved HOV lane without even a hiccup, we soon are tooling into the parched landscape past Black Canyon City and Verde Valley.

BP 1 D at breakfast

Arriving at our Hotel Aspen Inn Suites in Flagtown this off-season Wednesday, we check in early, hoping that we are in time for the motel breakfast.  The clerk smiles and says we are.  With 15 minutes to spare, we slip in for huevos rancheros and home fries drenched in salsa complemented by homemade biscuits!  A road trip trifecta.

BP map of BP

Nearby Buffalo Park is a 215 acre open space within the city limits of Flagstaff with a two mile walking/running loop.  With views of the 12,000’+ San Francisco Peaks as a backdrop, this park is ideal for moms and dads pushing strollers as well as friends out for a mid-day walk and talk.

Rocking the zip-off hiking shorts in Buffalo Park

Rocking the zip-off hiking shorts in Buffalo Park

A little after the noon hour, we bisect Buffalo Park on the Arizona Trail.  Within a half mile we are at the entrance to the Coconino National Forest and its system of trails.  For the most part, the trail has little variation in elevation as we wander through pinon pines and scrub brush of this high desert below the mountains.

BP map of AZ trail

Highly popular with mountain bikers high above the city, our trails will lead us to the Duck Pond 3.7 miles away.   The Arizona Trail (technically the Arizona National Scenic Trail) is a continuous 800+ mile trail through Arizona from bottom to top, from Mexico to Utah.  As part of the 6,875 mile Great Western Loop, which includes the 2900 mile Pacific Crest Trail, the Arizona Trail links deserts, mountains, and canyons.

BP 1B  D at trail sign

Winding past the junction of the Rocky Ridge Trail, we hike along the foothills of the mountains.   And then, for no explicable reason, the trail dumps us on a paved road.  Doubling back to see where we may have lost the trail, we come up empty.  Stumped, we return to the road hoping we’ll pick the trail’s scent.

BP 2A  more of trail

After a quarter mile it just doesn’t seem right to be walking on this tarred semi-suburban road; so we make a sharp right and just start bushwhacking up the hill to where we think our trail should be.  Soon I spot mountain bikers above us; stomping over logs, we step around scrub brush in search of that trail.

BP 3B bikers

Hannah with some bad dude bikers

At a vista overlooking mountainside homes in Flagstaff, we come upon the aforementioned mountain bikers taking a break.  Asking, Where are we? they respond, The Ridge Trail.  We think, How could we lose as major a trail as the Arizona Trail?  We are not rookie hikers.  Perhaps we need to reassess.

BP  3  H on trail

Abandoning any thought of reaching Duck Pond, we trek back to the Buffalo Park trailhead having had enough of our misguided wandering.  Skirting the face of the mountain, we come to a junction that identifies the Rocky Ridge Trail as one in the same with the Arizona Trail.   Perplexed, we just want to head for our rental car at the trailhead and call it a day.

Lunchtime

Lunchtime

Since we have been on this trail just an hour ago, we put our heads down and motor on.   Soon we are hiking higher and higher on a trail that is increasingly foreign to us.  Once more we double back looking for our original trail.

BP 4  h on trail

Growing weary, we are frustrated with the poor signage, but notice a gully that looks familiar.  At a previously passed “0.9 mile to Buffalo Park” sign, we feel confident that we can follow this trail back.

And then we are not.

We have no idea where we went wrong, but wrong is where we went.  None of the trails look familiar, but we figure following the base of the mountain can’t get us too far off-track.  Seeing two women walking dogs in the distance, we step up our pace but never catch up with them to ask where the hell we are.  Unaware that we are pushing west and north of where we should be, we still never feel “lost lost;” just lost.

BP 2E h on more trail

At last we see a small barn in the distance and beeline for it, believing it must lead us to some city streets of Flagstaff.   Spotting an idling tow truck, we approach and ask of the whereabouts of Buffalo Park.  The helpful young man with his girlfriend on the front bench seat says that we are just 6 to 7 minutes away… by car!  He guesses we are an hour or two away by foot.  What he doesn’t do is offer to squeeze us into the front seat and take us there.

BP 5 streets

Checking WAZE, our GPS navigational system on my iPhone, we learn we are 1.7 miles away from the Buffalo Park trailhead.  With nothing else to do but to put one weary foot in front of the other, we walk side by side on city sidewalks, talking little, just ready to be back at the trailhead parking lot.

BP 5A  highway

Climbing a ¾ mile hill with cars passing at 50 mph, we eventually bushwhack to the trailhead parking lot.  Nearly an hour after we expected to be here, we pull off our hiking socks and shoes, slip on our sandals, and most fortunately have but a 2.5 mile drive back to the motel.   We cannot spin our weariness into something positive…yet.

BP 6 Hotel inn suites

After a shower and brief nap, we partake of the free happy hour at the Hotel Aspen Inn Suites.  A cold Bud Light away out West never tasted so good.

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Dan and Hannah and Her Spasmodic Dysphonia  Part 8

Hannah reflects on her future living with spasmodic dysphonia.

Can’t say that I came home feeling totally hope-full or convinced that “all shall be well” with my voice after my five-day workshop in Apollo Beach, FL. 

BUT!  Beginning with listening to Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement address at the University of California, Berkeley (in the Tampa airport), my hopefull-ness factor rose.

As her friend Phil said, after Sheryl’s husband died just over a year ago, “Plan A is no longer available; let’s kick the shit out of Plan B.”  I’ve decided a “perfect” voice is no longer available as a Plan A, but I’m ready and willing to make the very most of (and kick the s*it out of) Plan B.

Working in the backyard this afternoon – with some of the tools provided at the voice clinic by Connie Pike’s team – I am encouraged and hopeful and realize, yes, it will take time to develop my new voice.  But that’s a gift I have – time.   And, I’ve got companions and cheerleaders along my way.

So, on with Plan B.  Not everyone gets time to implement and enjoy Plan B.     

Lucky me.  Hannah

Dan here.  By the way, here is the link to the Sheryl Sandberg‘s commencement address that Hannah referenced.   Click on Sheryl’s name.   It’s fantastic and well worth your twenty minutes.

Dan and Hannah Hike to Seven Falls in Bear Canyon near Tucson, Arizona

After being dragged and beaten yesterday (early March) at Picacho Peak’s death-defying, hike-grabbing cables, I am ready for something a little mellower.  Getting our Zen on, Hannah and I have come to hike the Phone Line Trail in Sabino Canyon near Tucson, Arizona one more time.

7F 2C more saguaros

Sabino Canyon holds a dear spot in my heart as I hiked here with my Arizona State roommates, Big Steve, Nobes, and Rich, in 1970.  Unprepared for the overnight near-freezing January temperatures, we slept on the concrete floor of the men’s room with no padding other than our clothes.  As nights go, that was a long one.

7F 1E arty saguaro

Hiking Sabino Canyon whenever we come to Tucson, this time Hannah and I spend two nights with our friend Sally, who’s Mom Hannah cared for, as her hair stylist, until her recent passing.  Leaving from Sally’s home in central Tucson on the first day of March, we have a 25 minute ride out to the Santa Catalina Mountains and Sabino Canyon.

 

7F sabino canyon map

The Bear Canyon Trail takes us to Seven Falls

Pulling into the parking lot on this workday Tuesday, I am stunned to see 100 cars or more already in the lot at 9A.  Snowbirds!  We retirees from the northern tier of the USA have descended on the desert Southwest like a plague of grasshoppers.  The story goes that you need to arrive by 7A on the weekends to find a parking place to hike Sabino Canyon.

Lathering on the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen recommended by my dermatologist (and Ben Afleck’s ex, Jennifer Garner), I pack two bottles of water and sport an OR protective floppy hat for this full-sun day in the mid-80s.

Our destination - Seven Falls

Our destination – Seven Falls

Checking in at the modern visitor center, I learn from the ranger that she has an alternative hike for us to consider – Seven Falls.  This eight mile round trip hike with 750’ of elevation gain has seven river crossings and ends with seven falls from the snow melt of nearby 9157’ Mount Lemmon.  Dropping the Phone Line Trail like a bad habit, we take out for the falls four miles away.

Dan and his prickly friends

Dan and his prickly friends

On a wide sandy trail among the saguaro, ocotillo, barrel, and fishhook cacti, we have hard-packed sand that is easy on our feet.  Parallel to the trail is the road for the shuttle buses that takes visitors 1.5 miles into the interior; if hikers are so inclined, riding the shuttle reduces the Seven Falls hike to five miles round-trip.

The initial trail out to Seven Falls

The initial trail out to Seven Falls

Wanting the exercise and abundant sunshine, we hike with very little elevation gain for the first 30 minutes.  This contrasts significantly with the vertical climbing we did yesterday at Picacho Peak a mere forty miles away.   I’m still not over the throw down Picacho Peak administered to me yesterday. (Let it go, Dan)

7F 2 D at seven falls trail sign

At the turnaround point for the shuttle, we pick up a rocky, sandy trail along the flowing Sabino Creek to our right.  With saguaro cactuses as our trail mates, we are in another world.  Native to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and parts of Mexico and California, saguaros can grow 45 to 50 feet high.

7F 2B H among many saguaros

The first of the seven river crossings is a piece of cake as the trail makers have set flat rocks in a row across Sabino Creek.  Ascending the north side of the canyon just slightly above the flowing river, we cross six more times before we hike the final half mile climb to Seven Falls.

7F 4 crossing the stream

Rising above the river bed, we have a narrow trail which never seems perilous or threatening.  With other AARP-ers as well as University of Arizona students on a busy trail, 90 minutes later we see the falls from across the valley.

7F 5 D and H in water

Traveling past the falls, we circle back and do a little rock scrambling to arrive at the pool at the base of the Seven Falls.  A little after 11A, some 30 people are lunching as they cool off in the pool of ice melt from the snows of Mount Lemmon.  Mount Lemmon was named for botanist Sara Lemmon, who trekked to the top of the mountain in 1881.  It is reported that Mount Lemmon Ski Valley receives 200 inches of precipitation while the desert below averages a mere seven.

7F 7F itself

After not quite two hours on the trail, we desock and deboot and settle in to soak our feet in the melting snows.  A gregarious 50-something convinces us to get in the pool of snow melt  for our waterfall picture; it is refreshing in an icy cool way.

7F 6 trail home

After munching on coconut granola bars and handfuls of gorp with raisins, nuts, and cashews on the smooth rocks at the base of the falls, we return to the river crossings and cactus-loving trail.  With temperatures in the sun in the 90s, we are comfortably dry in the heat of early March.  Now summer would be another story

7F 120F temp

Some who have never lived in the Arizona desert, think that since it is a dry heat, it is somehow comfortably hot in the dead of summer.   Not even close!  By the time we would walk across the street from our home in Tempe from May through September, we would be sweating.  When we took our two-year old Molly to the park with its playground equipment in the summer, we had to arrive before 7A.  Any later in the day and the metal slides were scorching hot.  Let’s be clear, that the summer dry heat is like sticking your head into an oven. (Not that I actually have done that.)

7F 4B H on trail again

After nearly four hours of hiking, we return to the visitor center for Hannah to buy postcards and for me to find out the elevation gain for the Seven Falls hike for my blog.   The ranger takes the time to show me the book of elevations, and then notices my ever-present Ithaca Bombers shirt.  She asks if that is in New York?  I nod yes, and she mentions that she’s from nearby Rochester, New York.

I point to Hannah buying postcards and say, I married a Rochester girl.  Knowing that people often say that they are from Rochester when they are from a surrounding town, I mention Hannah was from Fairport.  Julia knows it well.

Hannah and Julia

Hannah and Julia, one of 5000

While I buy her postcards, Hannah and Julia talk of childhood memories of the area.  When I return to Hannah and Julia, who looks our age, I say, Did you know Dr. Kraai, Hannah’s dad?   It is not as an off-the-wall question as it might seem since Dr. Kraai was the family doctor for the town of Fairport who, into his 70s, made morning house calls, had office hours at the family home well into the evening, and delivered 5000 babies to boot over the course of his career.

Julia is stunned and looks directly at Hannah, Dr. Kraai delivered me.  Hannah, whose dad died 30 years ago, tears up immediately and says, I have goose bumps.  Julia says, I do too.

Small world.

Dan and Hannah and Spasmodic Dysphonia Part 7

What did I learn today – Day One of our Apollo Beach Adventure?

…that this will take patience – and discipline.  My “temperament profile” speaks to my need for discipline. I CAN be very disciplined. But, I’m also very good at going on my “Family Circus” (remember that comic strip?) detours.  Robbie (the counselor/consultant who works with Connie) reminded me of something I already know but…need to be reminded of: to make my voice – and the work that it will require – a priority and to do that work early in the day. Then, any further work throughout the day is bonus.

 …that I DO rely on and feel and appreciate companions along my way….those who keep in touch one way or another (texts, emails, notes) remind me of their love and support. I am sustained by that support more than they probably know. How lucky I am to have those companions in Life. They are what, they are who, add value and meaning to Life.

 …that I like to keep in touch with those who provide support, encouragement, love…sustenance.  So, I text, email, write postcards; I write them as much for me as for them. 

 …that Dan is my anchor, my True North. That I feel so lucky to be living Life at his side.

 The anticipatory phase is over…now the reality of work that lies ahead has kicked in. Practice, persistence, patience…will be my mantras. It’s like going on a diet….it’s not just for 6-8 weeks. It’s a lifestyle change that will be required of me. Connie and her team will provide me with the tools I need to make that change. Those I love will provide the support I need to maintain it – with my practice, persistence, and patience.

 

Dan and Hannah and Spasmodic Dysphonia Part 6

Here’s an excerpt from Hannah’s daily journal as the clinic begins.

On the three hour flight, I read 80 pages in Kevin Hancock’s book “Not for Sale.”  It’s the book our good friends Donna and George gave us for Christmas….turns out Kevin (president of Hancock Lumber in Maine) also has spasmodic dysphonia – and has attended the same SD clinic I’m headed for in Apollo Beach, FL.

While reading, I discover the other word I’ve been searching for when people ask me how I’m feeling about going to this 5 day intensive voice rehab clinic with Connie Pike (a speech pathologist who developed SD herself back in 2004.)  Mostly I feel excited and hope-full.  A bit “nervous” I had thought….but that word didn’t feel quite on target. 

Instead, it’s “butterflies” I feel (thank you, Kevin.)  A fluttery feeling; full of uncertainty, yes, but more with an anticipation of good things – possibilities – to come.  Excited, hope-full, filled with butterflies….not a bad way to begin any journey!

Dan and Hannah and Her Spasmodic Dysphonia  Part 5

 

Call me prudent.  Call me cautious.  Call us fortunate.  You be the judge.

Today Hannah and I wake to our iPhone alarms at 4A and are out of the house by 5A for our 955A Jet Blue nonstop flight from Boston’s Logan Airport to Tampa.  We are heading south for Hannah to participate in a five-day intensive voice rehabilitation clinic.  Why leave so early, you may be thinking.   The answers are four.

  1. Traffic to Logan from 5A to 6A is flowing while traffic from 6A to 7A on Route One will be snarled in Danvers, Saugus, and Revere.
  2. Lately there have been a million TSA warnings about the delays at baggage inspection.   Get to the airport three hours early, we are warned.
  3. We park our car with Park, Ride, and Fly USA and must wait for the shuttle to take us to Logan three miles away.
  4. We can wait at the airport just as easily as at home with time for a leisurely Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and a muffin.

Pike D and H and DD selfie

Speaking of Dunkin’ Donut coffee, we raised our “cool” factor from 0 to 0.5 by walking through the airport strutting our stuff while hold our DD coffees.

As we get through the baggage check in at 650A (it took ten minutes tops!), Hannah notices that there is another non-stop Jet Blue flight to Tampa at 759A, two hours before our scheduled flight.

Approaching the young woman at Gate 19, we learn she wants to know if we checked any bags.  Negatory.  We only do carry on.   She tells us that for no charge we can be put on the standby list for the earlier flight.  Hannah beams and already feels like she’s won the lottery.

Wouldn’t you know, we are called and given separate middle seats in the back of the plane for the earlier flight.  Bonanza.  If we hadn’t come to the airport so early, we wouldn’t be winging our way south to Florida’s west coast at 8A.

Another excellent sign that good things are ahead for Hannah at Connie Pike’s clinic for voice rehabilitation!

Fun facts two.

  1. Tampa is roughly below Wooster, Ohio, longitudinally speaking.  It’s where Hannah and I met as 19 year olds at the College of Wooster.
  2. Due to its relative closeness to the equator, Tampa has one hour and ten minutes less daylight today than York, Maine!

 

Pike AB map

Arriving two hours early. we drive our Nissan Sentra from Fox Rent a Car south on I-75 to Apollo Beach, where Connie runs her five-day clinic.   Stopping in at her place hoping to introduce ourselves, or at least find the house where Hannah will begin her five-day clinic, we ring the bell.

Pike Connie

Connie Pike

Connie answers the door.  We introduce ourselves and she welcomes us as old friends.  Immediately, I notice that her voice (Connie has had SD) is strong and sweet, with not a hint of SD-ness.  Wow!

More good karma.

Dan and Hannah and Spasmodic Dysphonia (Part 4)

Connie Pike runs five-day clinics for sufferers of spasmodic dysphonia (SD) four times a year from her offices in Florida.  Calling this past March, Hannah learns that there is a clinic coming up in May.  With only spaces for six people for this intensive workshop, we learn that there is a place for Hannah.

Connie describes her clinic thusly:

Holistic evaluation of voice includes assessment of voice production as well as breathing patterns, neuromuscular dynamics, psycho-social issues, and overall life-style contributions.  

Intensive individual and group treatment includes voice recovery and breathing techniques, neuromuscular treatment and mind/body explorations aimed at finding a new “groove” for the voice.

It also offers an individualized program for continued and maintained long-term improvement.

SD question

Most people with SD have poor breath support and use a lot of effort to produce voice. Easier voice production patterns result when the nervous system is more relaxed, and right-repetitive voice and breathing can result in permanent changes.  

The clinic includes voice analysis and the development of individualized strategies to improve voice production. Video-taping throughout the clinic is transferred to a DVD that further reinforces the program.

The program begins at noon on Wednesday with introductions and assessments. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, sessions are from 9A-6P and include individual and group training.  The clinic notebook contains ample material that can be worked through individually. Sunday is primarily group time and re-assessments. Connie provides three hours of follow-up in person, by phone, or SKYPE during the first six months following the clinic. 

Florida sunshine state

Efficacy studies show that 85% of those attending have significant long-term improvement. We commit to each participant the best of what we have to offer to see that “overcoming SD” is accomplished, and that our holistic program meets that goal. 

Say no more.   We are off to Florida next Tuesday.

Dan and Hannah and Spasmodic Dysphonia (Part 3)

Once Hannah reads Connie’s book, Free to Speak: Overcoming Spasmodic Dysphonia, she feels that she has found a kindred spirit.

Connie quotes Joseph Semple (Voice therapy: Clinical studies, 2000) thusly: Imagine developing a condition so insidious that it may cause loss of self-respect and confidence; a disorder so negative as to cause depression, reclusiveness, and thoughts of suicide; a condition that can ruin careers, marriages, and friendships.  This disorder is spasmodic dysphonia.

Whoa, that is a heavy load!

connie's first book free to speak

My take away from my read of Free to Speak is:

The cause of spasmodic dysphonia (SD) is up for debate as it may be neurological or psychological.  Stress may contribute to SD or lead to the chronic nature of the disease.

Botox is the preferred treatment of the medical community.   The American Speech and Hearing Association takes a “no cure” stance and recommends Botox (every three months for the rest of your life).

Connie believes that knowledge of one’s breathing patterns and learning proper breathing techniques can address the symptoms of SD.   Devoted practice and attention to proper voice mechanics under the framework of a holistic and intensive treatment has led to individual success.

While treatment can take six to twelve months, crucial to success is maintaining a positive attitude.  Connie believes her spasmodic dysphonia is 95% resolved.  She can now yell across a number of rooms in her house.  Wouldn’t Hannah love to do that!

The fact that Connie is a trained speech pathologist who knows SD from the inside out, having the condition herself, has me thinking this woman may be on to something that can help Hannah.

map of florida

Connie Pike offers a five day clinic to set into motion the correct mindset, the proper mechanics, and the holistic picture of the disorder that will propel patients into regaining their voice.

With this news, there is literally more hope in Hannah’s voice than ever before.  Connie’s clinic is near Tampa, Florida.   Perhaps a Jet Blue flight to the Sunshine State is in order?

Dan and Hannah and Spasmodic Dysphonia (Part 2)

habitat-for-humanity1

Funny how things fall into place.  Our amigo George Ellis opens a door and Hannah steps in.  You see, George is the 2015 Habitat for Humanity Man of the Year.  His volunteering as a member of a team building houses for those in need has not gone unnoticed.  He’s a humble rock star for Habitat and richly deserving of the recognition.

The night when he received his award, the speaker for the ceremony was one Kevin Hancock.  That’s right, the Kevin Hancock of Hancock Lumber with stores all over southern and central Maine as well as New Hampshire and a generous supporter of Habitat.  And that night, George learned that Kevin Hancock has spasmodic dysphonia (SD), too.

Not for Sale

Kevin’s journey in coming to grips with his SD took him to the reservations for Native Americans in South Dakota.  He wrote a book, Not for Sale, about the experience.

Now back to George.  George and his wife Donna bought Hannah a copy of Not for Sale.   It sat on our shelf for the month of January as Hannah and I traveled to the coast of California to hike its bluffs and mountains.

Upon our return, Hannah checked the book out and found a reference to Connie Pike in the appendix.  It turns out Connie has played a significant role in Kevin’s effectively dealing with his SD.  You see Connie is a speech pathologist who herself has spasmodic dysphonia.  (By the way, later Kevin generously met Hannah for coffee to answer her questions and share his experience with SD.)

SD saying

Connie believed that there had to be alternatives to Botox injections, the preferred treatment of the medical community.  By the way, Botox is injected into the neck of the SD patient with the hope and a prayer that it will give the patient a few weeks of relief from the voice disorder.

connie's first book free to speak

Hannah has tried Botox.  First her voice got worse and never returned to normal for even a few weeks.  She has tried hypno-therapy, acupuncture, acupressure, healing resonance, herbal and nutritional therapies, and a little speech therapy.

Intrigued, Hannah had me order Connie’s book, Free to Speak: Overcoming Spasmodic Dysphonia from Amazon…

Dan and Hannah and Spasmodic Dysphonia (Part 1)

Spasmodic dysphonia (SD) is a voice disorder that makes it difficult for those like Hannah with SD to project their voice, to be easily heard.  She speaks softly and has been dealing with her SD for fourteen years.

Over the years, she has adjusted to its limitations and continues to live a full life as wife, mother, Omi, and friend as well as hairstylist to the elderly.   She is the star of my long running online hiking blog.  Working out regularly at the gym, she spends Tuesdays with me and our grandsons, Owen and Max, plays a mean game of Pickleball, and gets together with friends in twos and threes.

In large groups, she literally loses her voice (i.e., her speaking voice and her identity when her voice is not heard).

But when asked by the speech pathologist what she would do if she were to recover her voice, she tears up and enumerates:

Buck O and M and Omi at Wegman

I could read aloud and sing to our grandchildren without getting light-headed and winded in the first couple of minutes. I could talk to them in the backseat of the car – and be heard from the front seat. 

I could really-really enjoy participating (talking as well as listening) in the few large group parties that we have in our home.  We will still have those parties.

I would like to take back responsibility for my own phone calls – and my part of the phone calls when we talk with the kids and friends on the phone. 

I could/would read my own poetry aloud to others – give it my very own voice – rather than have someone else read it for me. 

My husband does things like calling health insurance companies for me.  I’m still not one who likes to spend time on the phone but when I have to, it would be so cool to have a free-flowing conversation where I’m not always concerned about using the least amount of words – sometimes just to “get the conversation over with.”  Or, having to repeat myself regularly or explain what’s “wrong” with my voice. 

BS5 D and H at tunnel

I could have conversations with my hard of hearing friends/customers (many are because of their age) and know they really understood me – and weren’t just smiling as if they understood.  Which, of course is really sweet.

My husband wouldn’t have to regularly ask me to repeat what I’ve said.

I could order over the counter (e.g., at the deli and at the Subway.)

And then serendipity opens a door to a little hope…