Todd has been a sounds guy all his life.

Yes, I know it should be “sound guy,” but I wrote it that way because he’s been in a band, released some CDs (as 404 Not Found), done production sound on some movies, and done post-production sound. He owns a whisper room (I wonder what percentage of the population owns a whisper room?)

But his ears don’t work right.

For many years I have been a witness to what’s been going on inside his ear canals. I haven’t been a very good witness because one person can’t hear what’s going on inside another person’s head. And I haven’t been a very good witness, sometimes, because of a lack of sympathy.

One time we were sitting in the living room, talking. He didn’t respond the way I wanted to something I said, so I told him, “Clean out your ears!” He started to cry.

I’ve felt guilty about that for years.

This post was inspired by Rita’s post on reflex sympathy dystrophy (RSD). It sounds like a horrible disease. As I read it, I wondered what I would do if I got such a painful, incurable health problem. But I didn’t really believe I ever would–we’re all immortal, right? So I focused instead on what I would do if my partner got something similar. Would I be able to stick with it? How often would I think about escaping, about how this person was holding me back? How often would I beat myself up about being more patient, kinder, more giving?

I think my relationship with Todd has answered that question for me. I would probably fail all the time to live up to the standards I want to meet.

Over the years, I’ve found it useless to try to turn off the embarrassing, catty, selfish, or otherwise less-than-perfect voices in our heads. There’s really only one thing that works–focusing on someone else.

So here’s to you, Rita, who’s managed to keep going, even get a book deal. And to Todd, who may have found a cure after 13 years of tests.

Leave A Comment

  1. Todd Bradley September 26, 2008 at 8:39 am - Reply

    That was a nice post, though it’s a little embarrassing for you to tell the whole world about my crying because of my ears.

    I found an ABC News article about this particular problem I have, and it probably explains the whole thing better than my song and numerous blog articles could:

  2. Beth September 26, 2008 at 8:42 am - Reply

    Probably I should be more embarrassed. Thanks for the link.

  3. Rita September 26, 2008 at 10:38 am - Reply

    Thank you for the amazing – and unexpected – link. As you know, I addressed in my blog, my gratitude to the “loved ones” who end up becoming “caretakers” to those of us who find oursleves “not ourselves” one day. My husband – and children – have been unfailingly supportive; but if you think they haven’t occasionally said “the wrong thing,” then YOU are wrong. Don’t beat yourself up for one comment made in the heat of the moment. Or 10 comments. It can’t be easy. I finally stopped saying things like “I wish we could…” because what was my husband supposed to say? “Me too?” “We can’t because of you?” “Stop wishing?” Anybody with a chronic illness must incorporate into their thinking that prompting responses should be carefully done. Otherwise, we will end up not only ill – but alone.

    Best to you, Todd. And don’t be embarassed by WHO you are, and how you react. False bravado goes only so far!

    Thank you and regards,


  4. Beth Partin September 26, 2008 at 10:51 am - Reply

    Thanks for commenting, Rita. And welcome.

    Yeah, that is a great lesson to learn–to prompt the responses that you want, or at least avoid prompting the ones you don’t want. I know I’ve spent plenty of time beating my head against that wall.

  5. Simon September 26, 2008 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    Hi Beth – Thanks for commenting on my blog the other day – I followed you home!

    My wife Chris and I both have the same chronic condition (which was how we got together!) so I guess that makes us more accepting of each other’s limitations. Even so, we sometimes say ‘the wrong thing’. I guess that’s just part of life. Rita is right – don’t beat yourself up! If we didn’t make the odd ‘mistake’ we wouldn’t be alive. We need to be easy with ourselves…

  6. Beth September 27, 2008 at 11:56 am - Reply


    thanks for visiting! Yes, being easy with oneself–that’s the goal. But I’m a worrier, so I have to work at it.

  7. Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck September 28, 2008 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    How is it I have never stumbled upon your fun site before???!!! Thank you for dropping by mine!

  8. Beth September 29, 2008 at 9:07 am - Reply

    Amber, it’s probably because I didn’t start it until a month ago. I’ve been enjoying yours, so thanks for stopping by!

  9. Writer Dad September 29, 2008 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    I would trade most things I own for a whisper room (nice shout out to Rita, by the way).

  10. Beth Partin September 29, 2008 at 7:57 pm - Reply

    Writer Dad,

    there is something cool about a whisper room, but something sinister also. It always gives me the creeps to walk in the studio at night.