Friday, October 06, 2006

High Ceilings. Tough Questions. The Wonderdog

Just when it seemed like summer would hang around forever like that weird congressman outside the Boy’s Club – bang, it’s fall.

Was a beautiful day in the city. The air had that crispness. Otis and I are alone for a week as AJ and Amos have decamped to Nashville where AJ’s sister is due to have her second child any day. I’ve used some of the alone time to teach Otis to sit and stay, though so far he’ll only do these for a treat. No treat and he gets unruly.

“Mr. O,” I pleaded with him, “Sit for the love of sitting, for loyalty, for friendship, trust. There is more to life than Milkbones.”
To which he replied: “The heck you talking about? It’s the left pocket isn’t it?”
“No, Otis. You’re not listening. It’s not about the food.”
“Gotcha, gotcha, gotcha,” he said. “What’s in the hand? What’s in the hand? WHAT”S IN THE HAND?”

Last night, I put him in his cage and went to a dinner for three thousand people at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. I’d never been there before -- Holy Crap, I didn’t really believe such places existed. It was like walking into a Henry James novel, a Monet painting. In the front hall was a fifteen foot high flower bouquet that defied gravity. On the stairs young women passed me dressed like they had just fallen off a modeling catwalk – I’d never seen anyone wear such outfits in real life. In the lobby, the ceilings were twenty feet high and covered with a paintjob so fine it must have been applied with eyeliner brushes.

The dinner was being put on by the Turkish Cultural Center to celebrate the end of Ramadan. My aunt Marcia, a magnificent Whirling Dervish Sufi Dancer (among many other things) had been invited by the Turks to perform. The featured speaker was someone named Hillary Clinton. The waiters served Baklava covered with drizzled honey and gold.

I texted AJ: “I think I have entered an alternate universe. I’m not sure this is quite my speed.”
She texted back from Nashville: “I just got my toes painted purple in a place that is blasting Auld Lang Syne and has pictures of Reagan on the walls.”
“Touche,” I wrote.
There was a call to prayer. Then seventy-seven speeches, each one longer than the last. I heard every word of the speeches, which sadly, didn’t mean they were any less boring. To me the measure of a speech's boringness always used to be whether I could hear it or not. No longer.
“Are they singing that ‘Istanbul used to be Constantinople’ song?” AJ asked.
“No,” I said. “And I don’t think they will.”

But maybe they did. Maybe Hillary led them in the chorus after swooping to the stage from a rope tied to a chandelier. I don’t know. I left to walk Otis. The future president lost out to the pup in the cage. I hope he appreciated it.

“Sit,” I said to him when I got home.
He ran right past me. “Hell no,” he said. “I got something to do."


Shifting gears from that exciting business, I’d like to address some really good questions that I received from Chris on the last post.

His first question is about finances. What’s the damage on the CI operation? Well, mine cost about 75 thou, a nice chunk of change. That includes the surgery, the implanted and external part of the device, some spares and batteries, and a night in the hospital. In my case, insurance covered all except about 3500. That amount, the co-pay was handled nicely by my friend Mr. Visa.

Chris’s second question is more complicated. How has getting the implant affected my relationships with my deaf friends? Good question. Very good, so good that I’ll answer it in a future post devoted just to that subject.

See what I did there? Sorry bout that.

Finally, Chris, I’d like to say that I don’t think that implant recipients are mostly white and middle class. There’s an interesting reason behind this. Implants are covered by insurance -- even government funded insurance like medicaid covers them -- hearing aids, on the other hand are not covered. The cause for this discrepancy, far as I can tell, is that surgeons have a more powerful lobby than audiologists and so are better at getting their services covered. A nice result of this is that children are not being denied implants as a result of financial hardship. A not-so-nice result is that some of these children getting implants would probably do fine with a hearing aid – which they can’t afford.

At the Lexington School for the Deaf, a school in Queens where I worked for a year, three-quarters of all the pre-school kids have implants. However, as I’ve mentioned many times before, just getting an implant does not assure success. You need to work at it and you need a lot of training and support. And what’s unfortunate is that many of the lower income deaf children who get implants don’t get the training and support. Then they get stuck in a tough spot.

It’s an interesting, complicated issue. Someone could write a thesis on this, and in fact, I know someone who has. I’ll ask her for her thoughts.

Thanks for the questions.


Anonymous Chris said...

Hey Josh,

Many thanks for answering my pesky questions! You did such a good job that I'll give you a pass on the deaf friends question.

I've referred a few people to your blog. Thanks again and keep up the good work!


9:57 AM  

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