WHEATON – Wheaton resident Nancy Chovancek has done and seen a lot in her life: struggled with hearing loss in her 20s and 30s, self-published two books about the experience, been divorced, been a mother, gone skydiving and been the victim of both a peeping tom and a flasher.
In her new memoir, “Angry Birds and Beehive Hair,” she hopes readers will find something they can identify with. Suburban Life reporter Nathan Lurz sat down recently to talk with her about the book.
Lurz: Your previous books, “I Can Finally Hear Birds” and “Bobblehead” both centered on your hearing loss. What is that story?
Chovancek: My hearing really started to go probably more in my mid-30s, but it’s due to Meniere’s disease. So I started having vertigo problems – I’ve actually had that problem since my lower 20s. Didn’t happen that often, but when I started hitting my 30s, I started having more and more vertigo. Then tinnitis struck. ... It got to the point where I couldn’t articulate speech, so that’s when I moved to cochlear devices and then I had a surgery done in 2009, but then I started having more vertigo problems.
I was basically down for the count by 2010 for most of the year, visiting with different types of neurologists and trying to figure out what types of medications to take. ... As a last resort, I had gentamicin shots, which is a nonintrusive way of going in and killing all the nerves.
Then I had to go to rehab for four months for balance problems ... but now I’m basically a klutz. Going to the grocery store is my nemesis.
Lurz: How has life been since your hearing loss and through the recovery process?
Chovancek: It changes your life. You have to adjust to things – my family has to adjust to things. For instance, you have to look at me if you want to talk to me, you can’t walk away because I won’t understand what you’re saying. Talking on the phone is really still a struggle for me. ... I haven’t listened to music in a long time.
I remember my son was laughing at me when “Poker Face” first came out, I thought she was singing “Cherry Pie.”
But there could be a lot worse things in life. I am blessed that I can sleep peacefully without having to listen to my husband snore.
Lurz: How did you get into writing?
Chovancek: I was in design and wanted to increase exposure for my business. So I started writing primarily about the industry, but there’s only so much you can write about without getting bored to tears, so then I started writing about everyday stuff that effects you and me and can be relatable, and that’s what stuck.
Lurz: What is your writing style like? What about it might appeal to readers?
Chovancek: I have a sarcastic approach. I throw humor into everything, or at least I try to. ... It’s a humorous book, it’s a quick read, it’s highly relatable moments that anybody can understand.
It’s a book about everyday stuff that happens to you and I, but I just take it to the next level. ... Anything that’s relatable to another human being – you’re just communicating with them.
That’s what books are supposed to be about, it’s for enjoyment. Things you can immerse yourself in and find funny and forget your every day stresses. I’m there to amuse you at my expense, and I don’t hold anything back. Everything in the book is true. This is my life, believe it or not.
Lurz: While it’s not dirty laundry, the things in your book are often very personal. What do you get out of publishing such detail?
Chovancek: Really, I want an affirmation that I’m not crazy.
I want the affirmation that I’m not losing my mind and that you’re thinking the same thing that I’m thinking.
Stories included in 'Angry Birds'
• Death of a Father • Rituals of Being Sick • The Art of Unfriending on Facebook • Company Christmas Parties and the Lampshade • Gym Rules • The Power of Procrastination
Buy the book
"Angry Birds and Beehive Hair" is available online and in bookstores. For more on Nancy Chovancek and her other work, visit www.booksbynancychovancek.com.