Michelle feeding chickadees out of her handI was up early at 6:00 am and on the road headed towards Beech Creek Botanical Gardens & Nature Preserve in Alliance, Ohio for the wildlife rehabilitation course given through the Ohio Wildlife Rehabilitation Association. With the way I felt the day before, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it all the way through the day-long event. It was a sit-down event, rather than something requiring participation out in the field, so I figured I’d be okay.

The ride down was uneventful, though we ran into rain and snow-covered areas. The instructor was very accommodating because my friend had actually missed the registration deadline (argh!) but, since I had just had surgery, we figured he could sign up when we got there. If nothing else, we thought they’d be fine with him there as my driver and extra ear to take notes in case I needed it. It all worked out great and a few attendees made room for us at the front of the classroom to ensure I could hear.

Surprisingly, I was fine sitting for the entire workshop. Even took a short hike to feed some chickadees on a trail outside of the facility. However, it was very hard to hear the instructor and attendees as I only had one “good” ear, which suffered from severe high-frequency hearing loss too. My friend was great at writing down and filling me in on anything I missed. Next to my parents, what would I have done without him?

Wendell the woodchuck
Wendell the Woodchuck

We had bagged lunches with sandwiches and fruit. As instructed by the doctor, I had removed the nausea/dizziness patch from neck. I was still a bit dizzy but feeling more and more normal. The class was very interesting. I learned about answering wildlife calls and caring for and rehabilitating squirrels, chipmunks, woodchucks and rabbits. I had a little experience already in wildlife rehabilitation through some volunteer husbandry and outreach educator work I had done at the Ohio Wildlife Center. In fact, the center had a woodchuck that suffered from racoon roundworm, which causes nerve damage, head-tilting, walking in circles and other abnormal behavior. This was the tamest woodchuck – he didn’t know that he was a woodchuck due to brain damage – as they tend to be nasty to humans. He’s a favorite at the center. By the end of the workshop, I started getting a bit tired and sleepy but managed to stay awake talking about the class during the 2-hour ride home.

That evening, we came home and I ate a light dinner and sat on the computer awhile. Feeling pretty good other than the occasional pulsing in my head and ringing in my ear. More annoying and uncomfortable than actually painful. But getting through the workshop made me think I was definitely on the mend even though I felt more like the injured animals than I learned about rehabilitating.

About Post Author

Michelle Harris

Michelle (aka "Chelle") is owner/founder of Shel-Shok, LLC (marketing agency) and Green Matter, Limited (environmental education). She started losing her hearing back in the '90s for no known reason. In 2011, she had surgery for a cochlear implant, which has dramatically changed her life. Since then, her aim has been to educate others and eliminate stigmas associated with hearing loss.
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