View Full Version : It seems strange......

Ken Fitzgerald
10-27-2010, 11:09 PM
I can show Social Security records to verify that at age 15 I worked for my father on oil rigs. I went to HS days and roughnecked Morning Tour for my driller Dad. I paid room and board to my parents because they both worked and they had 5 other children to raise. Besides, my father thought it was a good lesson in responsibility for me. I bought and paid for my first car at age 16. It was a '56 Chevy 2-door sedan 265ci V-8 3-on-the-tree with manual overdrive.

Graduating from HS and locking horns with my father, I held many jobs until I met the LOML on a blind date. I quit the factory job I had and went to work for Dad. I could make more in the week or so before I left for bootcamp.

8 years later, several companies courted me for my technical skills and my active military security clearance I was using daily. In August of '76 I interviewed with a small company that was manufacturing a new product called CAT scanners. They had 80% of the world market at the time. CT scanners were relatively new in '76 and I thought I saw a future. I turned down more money from a defense contractor and went to work for that company. 2 years later they were bought by J&J and I had just been promoted to management. 5 years later J&J sold them to one of the largest corporations in the world.

I haven't had to look for a job in 34 years.

On July 9th of this year I awakened to find myself suddenly deaf. After numerous doctors visits and a purchase of the most powerful hearing aid available in this country, I am still at a huge hearing deficit. Telephones....tvs.......most people....I can't hear. I haven't worked since July 10, 2010.

I am old enough and have enough time with the company that I can take a normal retirement. Last Thursday I notified my coworker, team leader and manager. Last Friday I sent the email notice. February 1, 2011 I will retire. Today my manager picked up my company van. It's the first time in 34 years there wasn't a company car parked outside my home.

After working full time for 46 years, it will seem strange to not have to report to work or answer to someone other than the LOML. I was planning on retiring in December of 2011....I'm just going a few months earlier.

It's going to seem strange........

Jeff Monson
10-27-2010, 11:22 PM
Congrats on retirement Ken, I'm sure it was not easy watching the company van leaving the driveway. Look on the bright side though, more time for sawdust!!!

Charlie Stone
10-27-2010, 11:25 PM
ahhhh .. the weekend that never ends ....

Joe Adams
10-27-2010, 11:26 PM
Life is a journey. The best thing you can do is hang in there and enjoy the ride.

When my father was in his sixties, he woke up one morning and realized he was virtually blind. Several months later his sight returned unexpectedly and the doctors declared him a miracle patient.

Keep the faith. You'll get through this.

Brian Brown
10-27-2010, 11:48 PM

Congratulations on the retirement. I'm sorry it had to come about the way it did. If you are like most retirees, you'll be busier now than you were when you were working. Good luck, and I hope things work out better with your hearing.

Belinda Williamson
10-28-2010, 7:06 AM
I bet you'll adjust to retirement in no time, Ken. You're adjusting to being hearing impaired and the early retirment is just a little bump in the road. If you decide you are ready for retirement you can always start a new career, maybe something home based. Hang in there!

JohnT Fitzgerald
10-28-2010, 7:11 AM
Sorry to learn of your hearing problems Ken. That sounds just darn weird. On the other hand, congrats on your impending "retirement". I put that in quotes, because even though you'll be leaving your 'day job', people like you (that's a complement..."like you") never really retire - you'll find ways to keep very busy, I'm sure.

Reminds me of a 'retirement calendar' I saw once. Every day was labeled 'Saturday' :D

Dan Hintz
10-28-2010, 7:16 AM

I know we talked about your situation before very briefly... were the doctors ever able to find the root cause?

Without the company van taking up the space, you now have room in the driveway for a large-bed CNC router :D Just make a little add-on to the house...

Chuck Saunders
10-28-2010, 8:05 AM
Ken, you will adapt. Everyone I know who has retired within a year has made the comment " I don't know how I had time for a job".

Horton Brasses
10-28-2010, 8:37 AM
Congratulations, enjoy. Hope you get some help with the hearing. The way your life fell into place would make a good inspirational book. Something to the effect of hard work, a little luck, a little guts, and things happen. A good lesson for everyone.


Gene Howe
10-28-2010, 9:07 AM

Really sorry to read about your hearing difficulties. Keep looking for a solution, as I'm sure you will. Sudden bi lateral loss is weird. I worked as an audiologist/speech pathologist for 30 years and would certainly be interested in reading about your case....especially, the cause, when one is found.

On the bright side, a hearty welcome to endless weekends! I've found only one drawback....we get no holidays off.:)

Ken Fitzgerald
10-28-2010, 10:42 AM
Dan, Gene and others,

They aren't sure what caused my sudden hearing loss. I awoke at 0230 on July 9Th to take my wife to the airport. She had a 0530 flight and wanted to be there at 0415. We live 4 blocks from the airport. when I woke up, my left ear had suddenly become deaf. They tried a steroid injection into the left middle ear with no results. I have had MRIs to eliminate acoustic neuromas, etc. The doctors could find nothing. Keep in mind, the scans were run on machines I maintain and the radiologists are professional and personal friends of mine. They consulted and it was both an individual and group reading.:)

I have had vertigo attacks and have been medicinally treated for it for over 7 years. I had an 84% hearing loss in my right ear for over a decade. I also have tinnitus in the right ear. It is the feeling of the ENTs that I have been seeing that I have Meniere's disease. Interestingly, I have a younger brother who has been diagnosed with the same thing and takes the same medicine for vertigo.

So...my left ear is now dead and with the help of the most powerful hearing aid made on my right ear, I don't hear major sounds but can hear what used to be background noises and they are loud. I cannot hear audio on telephones, tvs, music and most peoples voices. What sounds I do hear are distorted and don't sound like they used to sound. So I am re-educating my brain to sounds.

The hearing in my right ear is just barely too high for insurance to pay for cochlear implant on my left ear. The doctors feel that it's a matter of time until it declines enough to qualify for the implant....not if ...but when. A cochlear implant on my left ear is what they feel will help my hearing the most.

How does that effect your work? One night I spent the evening sharpening my turning tools for an upcoming session. I woke up at 0130 wondering...did I shut the grinder off? Can't hear it..... When I woke up at 0530 and got my first cup of coffee, I went to the shop....the grinder was still running. ....one day I was using a heat gun to shrink some heat shrink. Set the heat gun down....later picked it up to put it a way. Thankfully the heat gun was sitting on a metal saw ..it was still on.

It's changed the way I work. The last thing I do now as I walk out of the shop is stop...inventory all the tools I used that day and verify that they are turned off.

With the aid of a CapTel telephone I talked with a lawyer Monday concerning what steps I needed to do to start selling projects out of my shop and stay out of jail in the process. I won't become rich but hopefully pay for my hobby.

It just seems strange after 34 years of working for 2 very large corporations....Johnson and Johnson.....and the current much larger one....to be transitioning to retirement.....

Sharon turned in her notice on Monday. After 25 years working with special ed students at the same elementary school, she's retiring Feb. 25TH.

Our daughter works for US Air. We travel very cheaply. I see some trips in the future.

Scott Shepherd
10-28-2010, 10:54 AM
Ken, my best friend has Meniere's and was diagnosed with it when he was about 30 years old. It was brutal. It hit him suddenly and it was nasty. He had to have people take him home from work many days as the vertigo would kick in and he'd be so sick he couldn't hardly walk. They finally got him medicated properly and it stabilized. I actually watched a very active healthy person go to a place where I wondered if he'd be confined to bed and forced to never work again in less than 1 years time. What a nasty nasty disease.

He lost over 90% of his hearing in one ear and the other was heading south too. Just as quickly as it came, about 5-7 years of fighting it, it left. His hearing came back, he doesn't get vertigo any more, and he has no issues.

So don't give up, just keep an eye on that diet (many things really irritate that condition), keep fighting, and never give up, and be very cautious on doing anything like the implant until you are certain what it is. You can't undo that.

Best of luck on your journey.

Ken Fitzgerald
10-28-2010, 11:08 AM

According to my readings and what the doctors have told me, there is no definitive diagnostic test for Meniere's disease. It is diagnosed based on the patients historical symptoms over time. The ENT that's treating me for vertigo kept using the term "Meniere's like symptoms" until recently. Now I have enough history for the doctors to cautiously make the diagnosis of Meniere's disease.

When you have a severe attack, it's an incredible experience! Luckily I only had 3 while driving and each time was able to pull over in a convenient spot and either let my wife take over driving or sit there for an hour or more until the symptoms subsided.

They have had it under medicinal control for 4-5 years now.

Meniere's disease doesn't explain (according to the ENTs) the sudden hearing loss I experienced in my left ear.

Scott...I have been on a salt free diet for nearly 7 years too.

BTW....the 8-month old twin granddaughters are making their first trip away from their home in Houston to visit Nanny and PawPa in Idaho for Thanksgiving. Oh...their Mom and Dad are coming too!:D

Scott Shepherd
10-28-2010, 11:35 AM
Meniere's disease doesn't explain (according to the ENTs) the sudden hearing loss I experienced in my left ear.

My friend lost his hearing almost just like that. One day there, one day not and continued to get worse. You had to watch where you sat with him, as he couldn't hear from one side at all, couldn't use the phone except on his other ear. So it came suddenly like that.

No disrespect to your EMT friend, and I know you're in the medical field, but there are some very good people out there that specialize in dealing with Menieres and I'd seek one or more out and get some new eyes looking at this. All too often we think we hit dead ends because people we trust (doctors) tell us one thing. They aren't stupid by any means, but they just may not know what they don't know.

You might have already done all that, but I thought I'd mention it in case.

Caffeine was brutal for him. He had to cut out all caffeine as well as salt. Do you drink coffee? Soft drinks?

Dan Hintz
10-28-2010, 11:47 AM
I'll second what Steve says about getting opinions outside of your current friend group, especially from someone who specializes in what it is you may have. I have a similar story about a neurologist when it comes to my wife (more through PM if you're interested)... he may have been able to spout the technical terms from memory without issue, but it was obvious I knew a lot more than him about this particular subject because of my continual reading. We changed neurologists and immediately saw a difference in what was being looked at and what methods were being used.

As I mentioned in my earlier PM, I would suggest painting stripes on any object that moves so you can see at a glance if it's moving (think of the spirals they paint on jet engine turbines). Also consider outlets that light up when power is running through them...

Ted Calver
10-28-2010, 12:02 PM
Congratulations on your retirement. I'm guessing the comnpany no longer expects you to travel. A good friend experienced an unusual hearing loss when he retired....seems he could hear quite well... unless it was his wife talking to him. A delicate question, and it may not apply to a young guy like you, but have you eliminated the possibility of sudden hearing loss associated with the use of some ED drugs?

Gene Howe
10-28-2010, 12:07 PM

As I mentioned in my earlier PM, I would suggest painting stripes on any object that moves so you can see at a glance if it's moving (think of the spirals they paint on jet engine turbines). Also consider outlets that light up when power is running through them...

Also, you might consider cutting off all electricity before leaving the shop.
Ya need your sleep.

As Dan and others have suggested, don't give up on your quest for definitive answers.

Ken Fitzgerald
10-28-2010, 12:31 PM
The only "friends" involved were the radiologists reading the MRI. I have worked with one of them for over 20 years.

The ENTs involved are 3 different ENTs from 2 different cities 110 miles apart in 2 different states. They are NOT business partners, either.

My brother lives in eastern Wyoming and he's had the same diagnosis from doctors there.

I won't and haven't given up but find it impossible to function professionally this way. It would be dangerous to me and the equipment and wouldn't be fair to my customers or their patients. The communication problems are ridiculous.

It's time.

Charlie Reals
10-28-2010, 12:46 PM
Ken. have you considered traveling a little further from home? Even in Ca there is a difference in medical knowledge from rural to teaching hospitals in the big city.

Tom Hamilton
10-28-2010, 12:54 PM
Ken, congrats on your upcoming "new season of life." Certainly not under the circumstances you and Sharon would choose but it will be an exciting and wonderful time none the less. I'm glad to get an update on your medical issues also. I had you on the list for a PM but now you've answered all the questions for all of us here on the Creek.

Here's a couple of thoughts for you new lifestyle:

1. You are responsible for fixing your own lunch.
2. Separating "honey-do" time from shop time will make both more productive and enjoyable.
3. When every day is a Saturday you no longer have to fight crowds to go places and do things.
4. You will no longer take vacations...you now take trips.

Have a wonderful time with the Texans, Best regards, Tom

Ken Fitzgerald
10-28-2010, 1:08 PM

I am so glad you brought up those two Texans that are coming to visit me.

Here's a recent photograph of little Haiden. Her twin sister is just as beautiful!


You can see the resemblance to me her Grandpa....thin hair....chubby.....blue eyes........big ears.....:D

Dan Hintz
10-28-2010, 1:12 PM

No permission for that page :(

Robert McGowen
10-28-2010, 2:40 PM
Ken, I retired 1/31 of this year. Regardless of what you think, it will take about 3 days to get used to being retired! Then you will wonder why you did not do it a long time ago. Good luck with it.

Rod Sheridan
10-28-2010, 2:46 PM
Ken, I'm very sorry to hear of your hearing loss.

Congratulations on your retirement however, you were smart enough to develop retiremnet interests before you retired, which means you'll transition into retirement well.

It must seem strange to suddenly not see that van in the driveway, or be heading out to work each morning.

Good luck, and spend more time with the grand daughter, she's a real cute one.......Regards, Rod.

Gene Howe
10-28-2010, 3:06 PM

I am so glad you brought up those two Texans that are coming to visit me.

Here's a recent photograph of little Haiden. Her twin sister is just as beautiful!


You can see the resemblance to me her Grandpa....thin hair....chubby.....blue eyes........big ears.....:D

Cute as a bug!
Our two grandkids just left for Okinawa with their parents after a 30 day stay.
Enjoy them Texans. We miss ours already.

Ken Fitzgerald
10-28-2010, 3:11 PM

We have 7 grandkids and 4 great-grandkids.

There was an 18 year gap between our youngest grandson and the twin granddaughters born this past March to our youngest son and his beautiful and intelligent wife. We had 4 great-grandkids born during that gap. So we have 4 great-grandkids that are older than our twin granddaughters.

We enjoy and love them all.

Ray Bell
10-28-2010, 7:06 PM

Sorry to hear about your hearing problems, but congrats on retirement. I retired in 2004, but stayed on in a consulting position with a stipulation that I did not want to work more than 10 hrs/week. Even then for me it was a scary situation. I had worked so much of my life that I thought I would wake up each morning and think "ok what am I going to do now". It just didn't work that way. We either are traveling, or I stay busy in the shop, and I am loving it. My manager called last week which she does occasionally, but this time I could tell by her stammering, and hesitation something was different, so finally I said "you want my badge don't you". Since I only worked a few hours last year they just could not justify keeping me, so yesterday we had a surprise luncheon, and I turned over my corporate badge/prox card. Seems a little strange after so many years, but not the panic feeling I had in 04.

Anyway, I hope they get the hearing problem taken care of, and you love your retirement, Texas, and the beautiful twins.

We only live a couple of hours from you so if you are ever close, please let me know, and we can get together.


Ken Fitzgerald
10-28-2010, 7:09 PM

Thanks for the invitation. We get to the Tri-Cities area on occassion. I have a friend from HS who moved there recently.

I don't think I 'll have too much trouble staying busy.

Jim O'Dell
10-28-2010, 7:30 PM
Just ease into the retirement thing, and it will seem very natural! ;) Still praying for a change in the hearing. If it happens, will you stay retired? :D:D Jim.

Gene Waara
10-28-2010, 9:40 PM
Ken - I too am sorry to hear about your hearing loss. My brother has owned three hearing aid stores for years and I have heard many stories but none as unique as yours. Life can change in a moment. LOML recently had a mastectomy and the reconstruction process continues. Good news was cancer was contained and her outlook is excellent. I am the eternal optimist and always see a half full glass. Embrace your pending retirement - you've earned it. Consider all the good things in your life - family, friends, otherwise good health and a great hobby you can continue to enjoy. Best of luck in your retirement!

Bill Cunningham
10-28-2010, 11:28 PM
I fear I'm going to suffer the same thing someday.. I have about 40% hearing loss in my right ear, and 60% in my left. Tinnitus in both ears (like listening to stereo H.V. flybacks 24hrs a day) If I wasn't able to 'tune it out' I would probably go nuts.. I'm self Employed, so I will probably retire when they carry me out of the shop in a box..

Ken Fitzgerald
10-28-2010, 11:41 PM

I can only speak for myself.

Dan and I exchanged some emails earlier about my hearing loss. I will either get better or learn to adapt. I am not depressed by the situation but rather frustrated. But...I will get better or learn to adapt.

The only time the tinnitus bothers me is when I try to go to sleep at night. That noise is always there.

I really didn't mean for this thread to become so "hearing" involved. I only mentioned it because it's forcing me to retire 11 months earlier than I intended.

Based on my manager's statements yesterday, I think they'd work with me so I could work through December 2011. But...with the communications problems I now experience, it would not be fair to the company or the customers and I would not want to handle the increased tension as a result. I can't wear my hearing aid in all the conditions which I experience when I work. Without the hearing aid I am totally deaf. That's unsafe. If I get a cochlear implant same situation.

It is my time to go.

So I will retire.

Because our daughter works for USAir, we fly extremely cheaply and I will travel to visit friends and relatives around the country. And...a number of tourist sites but do it in the off season to miss the crowds..

Ron Jones near Indy
10-28-2010, 11:49 PM
Welcome to the all weekend week! I retired in May, and I certainly recommend it. I hope the hearing problem can be improved--if it can't be improved I know you will deal with it and move forward. Good luck on making $ with this obsession, er hobby we share.

Rich Engelhardt
10-29-2010, 6:34 AM
The only time the tinnitus bothers me is when I try to go to sleep at night. That noise is always there
I've got those noisy crickets too...self inflicted,, no one to blame but myself. I was wondering if your hearing loss gave you any break, but, felt a bit awkward asking.
W/me, it's only a matter of time until the ears go. All self inflicted so I've got no one to blame but myself.

Anyhow - I'm 58 - been drawing a "paycheck" for a bit over 50 years.
Got my first paying "job" when I was in first grade(1959) stacking milk cartons in the school cafeteria cooler for $.25 a day. Did the artihmetic (which is what math was called back then ;)) & figured I was a regular John D. what w/my buck and a quarter a week pay an my dime allowance!

I had all that moola spent for months to come!

Proudly told mom and dad at dinner I was a "Working man" now!
Dad said that since I was working, I didn't need an allowance anymore! Life lesson learned!
2nd life lesson came when dad told me about the "seasonal layoffs" (school breaks & summer vacation) where the pay stopped & w/no allowance I'd better save up for those days. Man, all of a sudden I went from John D. to Freddy the Freeloader! :D
Had a few years (11 to ~ 15) break from a paycheck but missed the cash, so I found a summer job.
The summer job turned into full time in 1970 when I graduated HS. Retail work...hated it..

Got away from retail in 1982 for two years when I started my own painting company. Right in the gut of the 80's recession....
Did extremely well - but - hated working for myself more than I hated retail, so back I went to that until 1989.
In '89, LOML and I discussed what I wanted to do. Told her, "Fix computers or drive a bulldozer".

So - I "retired" from a semi successful retail career.
(Started handing out flyers door to door/stocking shelves. Ended in management w/300 people under me)

Called both places that offered training & the computer school called back first, so, that's what I went back to school to learn. Graduated w/honors in '91 & went right to work in that field w/the company I'm with today. ( got a little gold medal and a few letters from some hoyti toyti National Honors groups. Never opened the letters so I don't know what they were. Gave them all & the medal to my mom. They meant a lot more to her than they did to me. I was happy I could put a little pride in her and dad's lives after being the,,,well, let's just say rabble rouser I was & let it go at that! ;))
Loved most of the last 19 years - but - enough is enough.

I let them know back in May that in August of 2011 I'm done.
I'm retiring from both the company and the IT field/computer industry.
(again, started blowing dust and crud out of dot matrix printers & will end with a bunch of paper certs on the wall and a bunch of letter acronyms after my name)

2011 - I'm moving on to another career & looking towards the day in 2031 that I can retire from that & start something new!

I'm counting down the months - my boss is counting down the weeks - and the president of the company is counting down the hours!

Art Mulder
10-29-2010, 9:58 AM
Ken, Congratulations on retirement. May you keep healthy and enjoy many years of trips and woodworking! I've heard from many folks how they "retire" and now are as busy as ever. But it's different when all those things they do to keep busy are things they choose to do rather than "have" to do!

I've got those noisy crickets too...self inflicted,, no one to blame but myself.

My dad has some hearing loss -- his career was a finishing carpenter and none of them ever wore hearing protection in the 60s/70s/80s. And I see how it can be isolating, which makes me paranoid about safeguarding my own hearing!

It's funny but I kind of chuckle when I would see Norm Abram on his TV show always saying how safety glasses are the most important thing... Yet I am so paranoid about hearing that I would never do without ear protection in the shop.

John Shuk
10-30-2010, 10:28 AM
Hey Ken,
So sorry to hear about the hearing loss. I hope I never have to deal with something like that. I think you are going to make a great retired guy though. I hope you make the most of being able to kick back and do what you want to when you want to. ENJOY!!!

Keith Starosta
10-31-2010, 7:38 AM
Ken, I want to offer my congratulations. I don't know you personally, other than just reading your posts on an internet woodworking forum. But FROM those posts, and watching the way you handle yourself with the general population of this forum, I can say that you appear to be a man of high integrity, due the respect that you have earned both here AND with your employer. I hope you retirement brings you and your wife much happiness...and relaxation!



Paul McGaha
10-31-2010, 10:01 AM

Sorry to hear of your hearing loss. I sincerely hope that situation improves.

As for as retiring, Congratulations. I have about 12 or so years left to work (I'm 53) but I'm thinking I am going to love being retired. Just a guess but it seems to me that having a woodworking shop and reitiring go together very nicely. Super nicely.