Saturday, January 3, 2015

What to do when a state of denial becomes undeniable

“No, I’m not in denial,” I said.

But I was – and the subject was my hearing. My wife had suggested numerous times that I was getting hard of hearing but I denied it. I thought I could hear fine, even though the person closest to me was telling me otherwise.

This blog is about denial, specifically denial about hearing loss, one of several forms of denial that I have been guilty of (more to come in the next several blogs.) I’m writing about denial because it is one of the biggest barriers to rebooting and reinvention. And I also will be writing about how to get out of this unfortunate state.

Hearing loss common in older adults

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), age-related hearing loss gradually occurs in most of us as we grow older. It is one of the most common conditions affecting older and elderly adults. 

“Approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing,” says the NIDCD’s website. “Having trouble hearing can make it hard to understand and follow a doctor’s advice, respond to warnings, and hear phones, doorbells, and smoke alarms. Hearing loss can also make it hard to enjoy talking with family and friends, leading to feelings of isolation. 

“Age-related hearing loss most often occurs in both ears, affecting them equally. Because the loss is gradual, if you have age-related hearing loss you may not realize that you’ve lost some of your ability to hear. 

Brought up short

“There are many causes of age-related hearing loss. Most commonly, it arises from changes in the inner ear as we age, but it can also result from changes in the middle ear, or from complex changes along the nerve pathways from the ear to the brain. Certain medical conditions and medications may also play a role.”

Whatever the cause in my case, the incident that brought me up short (and out of denial) was when a co-worker asked me one day if I had a hearing disorder. She said she had noticed that I seemed to miss some things in telephone conference calls. To my embarrassment, I had to acknowledge that I did indeed have some hearing loss and would get a checkup. I also had to admit to my wife that she had been right, both about my hearing and about being in denial. 

I went through the process of being tested and fitted for hearing aids. That was almost 10 years ago and I have been wearing them ever since. Of course I can hear much more clearly now and have moved past the social stigma of having them in my ears.

What to do about it

If you think you have hearing loss, and are in denial about it, there are steps you can take to get out of this double bind. Here’s what the NIDCD advises:

“The most important thing you can do is to seek advice from a health care provider. There are several types of professionals who can help you. You might want to start with your primary care physician, an otolaryngologist, an audiologist, or a hearing aid specialist. Each has a different type of training and expertise. Each can be an important part of your hearing health care. 

“An otolaryngologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the ear, nose, throat, and neck. An otolaryngologist, sometimes called an ENT, will try to find out why you’re having trouble hearing and offer treatment options. He or she may also refer you to another hearing professional, an audiologist. 

“An audiologist has specialized training in identifying and measuring the type and degree of hearing loss. Some audiologists may be licensed to fit hearing aids.

“A hearing aid specialist is someone who is licensed by your state to conduct and evaluate basic hearing tests, offer counseling, and fit and test hearing aids. You must be examined by a physician before you can be fitted for a hearing aid, although federal law allows you to sign a waiver if you don’t wish to be examined before you purchase an aid.”

We’re going to talk about other denial traps, including rebooting denial, how they can come to define us, and how to get out of them. So stay tuned. And you might want to take notes!



Monday, August 12, 2013

Tennis, anyone? How about tennis for underserved youth?


OK, re-rebooting and re-running.

I’m in the process of updating and doing some redesign on the RebootYou website at www.rebootyou.com. More details to come. Yes, it’s about time!

I’m also running in the 2013 ING New York Marathon on Nov. 3. This time I’m running for USTA Serves, the charitable foundation of the U.S. Tennis Association. USTA Serves brings tennis – and more – to underserved and disabled people with an extensive program that combines tennis and education. You can learn more about USTA Serves and how it carries out its mission at the USTA Serves website. I encourage you to take a look. This organization is doing a lot of good for a lot of deserving people.

You may be wondering if I have suddenly taken up tennis. No, the tennis player in the family is Tami, and it was through her membership in the U.S. Tennis Association that I learned about USTA Serves being an official charitable sponsor of the New York Marathon. When she got the USTA email telling her about the sponsorship, we both got excited because this would give us a way to do good and have fun at the same time.

By raising money for USTA Serves, I could earn a guaranteed a spot in the race. Which is a big deal, given that it is difficult to get into the New York Marathon in any case. Unless you run for a charity, to get in you have to compete for a spot in a lottery with about a zillion other people, and until I learned about USTA Serves, I was not seriously motivated to run for one of the other sponsoring charities. What’s more, getting in this year’s race was especially challenging because everyone who was officially entered in last year’s Sandy-cancelled race has an automatic pass into the 2013 event. But being able to run for USTA Serves changed all that for us – this is really Tami’s and my race.

So I will be getting my own street view of New York’s five boroughs on Nov. 3, taking a few small steps to bring tennis to people who might not otherwise have an opportunity to play. I’ll be blogging about my training along with continuing thoughts about rebooting. Hope you’ll come along for the ride. Or the run, as the case may be!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Life in the safe lane


 
On the RebootYou.com website, we’ve suggested going back to school as one strategy for restarting. Well, I took my own advice recently and went back to school, although it wasn’t exactly what I originally had in mind.

It was driving school – a course for seniors whose skills behind the wheels may be slipping.

It was a pretty thorough refresher course, lasting about 2-1/2 hours and covering freeway, residential and downtown traffic.

I was encouraged to take this course by my wife, who sees my driving habits from the passenger seat and has a much more objective view of my abilities than I do. So while I was initially skeptical, it turns out she was right – the course did show me several areas where I can definitely improve, and underscored the fact that I am not the Mario Andretti that I used to be.

For example, glancing in the rear view mirror regularly to see who or what is behind you and what they are doing – closing on you, passing on the right or left, etc. It’s a way of staying mindful of your total environment. I wasn’t doing it often enough.

Another example, when exiting the freeway: don’t step on the brake pedal while you’re still in freeway traffic. Just take your foot off the accelerator, slow down to make the exit ramp, then apply the brakes. Putting on the brakes on the freeway may slow you down too fast and it also sends what could be an alarming signal to the car behind you.

And looking in the right hand side mirror (and turning around to look) before turning  right at a stop sign or traffic light – there may be a bicyclist or skateboarder slipping up beside you.

So, steering out of denial and into the safe lane. The life I save might be yours – or mine!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Rebooting RebootYou

I’m getting myself back out on the road to run again, after a too-long layoff. As I was running today, I was thinking about the RebootYou website. Talk about something that needs rejuvenation! That’s another task I haven’t been taking care of. So enough of my beating myself up and on to the subject at hand: rebooting.

The original concept of RebootYou was to help people recently retired get back to being productive instead of sitting on the couch. My assumption was that there were ample opportunities in the market for gainful employment after retirement – perhaps at a slower pace or a different type of job, but staying active and engaged in something rewarding.

However, today, four years after I launched RebootYou, that assumption no longer holds true. In fact, the exact opposite situation prevails -- there are not even enough opportunities for gainful employment for many in their prime earning years -- well before they are at "retirement age." Many have been forced into involuntary joblessness not because they have aged out of the workforce, but because the overall workplace opportunity has been downsized by the economic downturn.

Making matters worse for those newly out of a job are fundamental global changes described by Tom Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum in their new book, That Used to Be Us. They point out that the combination of globalization and the information technology revolution have made many jobs obsolete or nonexistent. Even white collar jobs for high skilled workers can be outsourced to lower cost geographies. The net for would be rebooters is a vastly different climate than existed just 4 short years ago: 
  • The demographic bulge of Baby Boomers turning 65 still looms. The oldest of the Boomers have already hit 65 and started retiring from conventional jobs.
  • I have no data to back this up, but I’m guessing the majority of these Boomers are not on the cutting edge of personal technology and social media techniques.
  • The number of job openings has shrunk considerably, not only for those "second career" jobs but for basic employment as well.
  • To have any hope of qualifying for a job in this new world, many boomers will have to learn new skills and will have to learn to compete on a whole new playing field.
But for those who can adapt to the new realities, there are at least two broad paths to re-employment and continued contribution: education and entrepreneurship. I plan to talk about these avenues in coming blogs. Please come back and share your thoughts, too.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Los Angeles Marathon Success!

I am happy to report that on Sunday I successfully finished the Los Angeles Marathon, all 26.2 miles, in 6 hours and 42 minutes. I ran with Team in Training and raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It was without a doubt the most challenging marathon I’ve ever run. It started raining when the opening gun went off (actually the opening horn), and it rained the entire time.


It was no drizzle, it was an out-and-out winter storm, even though it was the first day of spring. The rain was continuous, sometimes light and sometimes coming down in buckets. And just for fun, there was a brutally cold wind whipping through the LA area with gusts up to 25-30 mph. The route took many twists and turns, so we got the wind from every direction at one time or another – front, back and both sides. And since I was soaked through and through, it sometimes cut like a knife.


In many locations the drainage could not carry off all the water, so it backed up into the street, 3-4 inches deep in places (today’s Los Angeles Times described it as “shin high,” and that was no exaggeration). There were 2 inches of rain in Santa Monica, 2.29 in downtown LA, and 6.35 inches in Van Nuys, which is just a few miles north of the marathon route.

I used a run-walk strategy which really saved the day, and at the end I had enough steam left to run all out for the last half mile. At times I felt – well, miserable: cold, wet and tired. I had to keep reminding myself that I was doing this voluntarily! I didn’t break any records for speed, but the objective was to finish. And I finished feeling strong – I did not hit the wall. As a footnote, last year’s winner, Wesley Korir, hit the wall at mile 21. He said afterward, “First of all, I’d like to thank God that I’m still alive. I thought it was the end of my life.” Hey Wesley, I felt your pain! Thousands of runners were evaluated for hypothermia and 26 were taken to hospitals for treatment.

Tami and two dear friends, Dirk and Tonya Jackson, were my support team. They braved the rain to cheer me on at the halfway point and wait for me at the finish line. All four of us, dripping wet, finally made it back to the hotel where we could dry out. I took a long hot shower (hot water never felt so good!), then we went out to dinner and had a big juicy steak to celebrate.

On Monday I was a little stiff (surprisingly, not as sore as I thought I would be) but very happy with the outcome. The Bay Area Team in Training runners raised over $100,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Team in Training runners from all over the U.S. participated in this race, as it was one of their main events, and all in all TNT raised $610,000 at the LA Marathon.

Many great friends and members of my family helped me more than double my personal goal of $3,000. My final total topped $6,000. I am deeply grateful for everyone’s financial and moral support. Their donations will go a long way toward advancing the mission of curing leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improving the quality of life for patients and their families.







Saturday, January 29, 2011

An update on my training

Tami and I were in Hawaii for 18 days over Christmas and New Years, and I got a lot of running in on Alii Drive on the Big Island.


Alii (means “king” in Hawaiian) is the main street in Kona, and it’s the perfect length for runners – a little over 6 miles. And there are scores of runners on the street, especially in the morning. Men, women, all ages, even a few very young athletes. Some – they are easy to identify – are clearly Iron Man athletes.

I ran on nine of the days for a total of 81 miles. Longest run was 16, and also did a 14 and a 10. Today (Jan. 29) I went 18 miles, and right now I’m pretty stiff and ready to go to bed! I was thinking that this soreness was caused by lactic acid buildup, but I just spent 30 minutes reading about lactic acid and it seems that it’s not the villain at all. What the latest research shows is way too complicated to go into here, but suffice it to say we get sore for a lot of reasons, one of which is probably not lactic acid!

The fundraising efforts for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society are going extremely well. At this point my total on my Team in Training website is $4,391, but I’ve turned in a couple of checks that haven’t been recorded yet and I have received two more checks this weekend that I haven’t sent in yet. So I think I will definitely hit my upward-revised goal of $5,000 within about a week.

The support of so many people is amazing and really gives me a huge boost to do the training, even when it seems to take a long time and take a lot out of me. I started this project mainly for myself, with of course the added purpose of raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It has become a much bigger and more emotional effort, for which I am grateful. I’m still running for myself, but now I’m also running for a lot of other people – those who have had (or who have) one of these diseases (listed on my webpage), those who will be benefited by the money I and others raise, and the many people who have contributed money to L&L Society. It’s a completely different experience now.


Team in Training is a great program. It will do wonderful things for you, both physically and psychologically. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in working for a worthy cause while doing something physically demanding.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Making progress one step at a time

The marathon training is coming along well. Had a slight flareup of what I thought was tendonitis, but it turns out to be just a strained muscle in my lower calf. Had it checked by my doctor today who concluded that it was in fact not tendonitis. He advised me to keep stretching, ice it down regularly and keep on running.

On Sunday I ran 11 miles, partly in the rain. Wind picked up on the way back and it was rather chilly. But overall it was a good day. By the end of December I hope to be up to 17-18 miles for my long runs.

Have shed about 6 or 7 pounds since I upped my running schedule. That's one of my goals for this effort and so far it's paying off. The old saying is true: burn up more than you take in and you will lose weight. The simplest diet regime in the world.

I'm tweeting about my training, and I think you can follow me on Twitter @leecallaway. Not sure exactly how that whole Twitter thing works -- I know how to post tweets but don't know how to recruit followers. When we work out with Team in Training, I am usually the last to finish any given lap or sequence of laps. Which means I am following all the other members of the team but none of them are following me on the track. Maybe there's a connection here -- if I could pass a few people, then I would have followers...