Posts Tagged ‘children’

My little boy. His first hearing test.

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I’ve said many times here and there that my hearing loss condition runs in my family.

Today began by being very challenging. I’ve talked previously about needing to take my oldest child, my five year old son, to get his hearing checked and today I did that. My cochlear implant audiologist’s office was a bit steep on the price for a hearing test, and because my son isn’t medically insured, I took him to the audiologist that I used many years ago when I got my hearing aids, long before my cochlear implant surgery.

I don’t think anything really prepared me for walking into that audiologist’s office today. I had told myself time and again that it was a simple test, it was likely that my son has zero hearing loss, and there wasn’t anything to be nervous about. And I wasn’t much until I stepped into that office.

My son had no hesitation. The minute we walked through the door, his eyes zoned in on some large leggo blocks, and the rest is simply history, for him at least.

I have been very careful the last few days, only telling him twice that he was having a hearing test, and very intentionally making it out to be no big deal. The last thing I want to do is create an anxiety or fear about it in him. The only thing I made a big deal about was that this wasn’t a “shot” doctor. He was good to go after he knew that he wouldn’t be getting a shot. Gotta love kids.

I had both my son and my little girl with me today. And I have no idea why I didn’t think to have someone go with me. Who cares about help with the kids? I definitely could have used the emotional support. My son walked in front of me and I held my little girl’s hand as we walked into the room that housed the sound-proof room for the hearing test. Audiology equipment sat at a little table, just under the window looking into the sound-proof room, and I felt like time stood still for a few moments.

I realized I hadn’t done this before. Because the times I’d been in this room before, it was all about me. Not about my little boy.

The audiologist checked my son’s ears a moment, asked me a few questions about why I wanted to get his hearing checked, then we both ushered my son into the sound-proof room, indicating for him to sit in it’s only chair. The audiologist placed headphones on his little ears, showed him how to push the button on the little remote when he heard a sound, then she stepped out. She closed the thick padded door and my heart nearly broke in two.

I forced myself to remain calm. This was only a test. No big deal. But I paced back and forth and wiped my teary eyes a dozen times as the audiologist made notes across my little boy’s first audiogram. She finished, and I held my breath.

She turned and looked at me, and it took me a second or two to really process what she said. My little boy heard just as well as any five year old boy does.

I couldn’t decide whether to cry, jump up and down, or give her a huge bear hug. I didn’t really do anything, just kinda stood there with my head spinning as she turned and opened the big door for my boy to exit the enclosed room. I smiled and told him how very proud I was of him sitting still and taking the test. He just shrugged like it was no big deal. Just like I’d hoped he would.

I let out a great big sigh of relief as we exited the office today. Thank God for such a great day. Fabulous day. With such good news.

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The trouble with insurance…

I’ve always been a very private person. I don’t know if it’s because of being late-deafened or if it’s just who I am, but it’s always been really easy for me to keep any and all matters of the heart very close to my chest.

I’ve had difficulties deciding if I should post this blog, simply because I feel it’s a private matter. But if I’m going to be honest about this journey I’m on with my deafness (and now hearing with a cochlear implant), then I know I should shove this out in the open. I certainly don’t post this for myself, but because I want any struggling deaf or cochlear candidate who reads this to know that I struggle right along with you. You’re not alone. We’re all pushing through life best we can, and it’s so so important that we keep a positive outlook and believe God for the best.

I know, I know, you probably wonder what kind of struggles can I possibly have now that I’m no longer facing deafness but hearing with my cochlear implant. I’m right there with ya. I thought my world would be nearly perfect after my activation, but apparently this world just isn’t perfect. Who knew?

This week I decided that it’s time to stop dragging my feet and to send my oldest child, my son now 5 years old, to get his hearing checked. Because my late-deafness can be hereditary (although I do pray constantly my kids didn’t get it and won’t ever), I want to be a well-informed parent and send him yearly for a hearing check-up now that he’s reached school age. Some schools do give basic tests, but I’d much rather send my son to someone who knows my medical history, my audiologist.

Before spending a bundle on a specialist, I have sought out medical insurance for both my kids.

I don’t work at the moment. My college degree is for a field that requires customer service, and because I’m not confidant in making phone calls and have to say so in job interviews, I have yet to be hired in my line of work. I was once employed by a company years ago, but when I stopped being able to hear over the phone (or to talk on a radio to guys on a construction site), I lost my job. Yeah I know that lawsuits are an option, but I’m not one to use that route.

After losing my job years ago, it was after that that I looked into the cochlear implant. I couldn’t get insurance through my husbands work, so I tried purchasing medical insurance privately, only to be denied by company after company because I was already a candidate for cochlear. And no one wanted to pay for that. I eventually found a government program to sponsor my cochlear implant surgery, which I’m ever grateful for, and sometime after I was approved to have insurance through Medicare.

How does that affect my kids?

This week I called the Social Security Administration, who funds my disability Medicare, and asked how to get my children insurance. I was told that while they can’t get Medicare, I could apply to get them Children’s Medicaid or CHIP, both government programs geared toward children. I applied to both programs, but it turns out that my husband makes just slightly over the income limit. CHIP recommended that I call the Social Security Administration to find out where to get insurance.

Obviously that brought me full circle.

I got a bright idea, remembering that neither of my children have any medical conditions. Being that, why would they not qualify for me to purchase private insurance? I looked around online, not finding a private company that listed quotes for only the children. The companies wanted me or my husband on the plan too. Since my husband’s work pays for his insurance, and I have Medicare, that didn’t really work for us. So I randomly picked a private company to call and see if they did have plans for children only, it just might not be on their website.

When I called the insurance company, they told me they didn’t service Texas, but gave me the number to the Texas Department of Insurance. When I talked to the lady at the Department of Insurance, it was there that I got the answer I sought. Apparently in Texas, private insurance companies cannot sell insurance to children only. A guardian or parent must be on the plan as well.

Basically it boils down to that at the moment I haven’t found a way to buy insurance or use a government program to get them insurance either. What does that mean? I have no idea!

I can’t say that I have thought much about the long term with this issue. I’m not going to worry, because I know that inevitably everything can work out the same way it all worked out when I had so much trouble getting my own insurance. Worrying isn’t going to help me out any. What I can do for today is call my audiologist and see if they can give me some sort of discounted price to check my son. If they want to charge me the full couple hundred that I know it can be, then I know there is an audiologist in my metroplex that does non-profit work for children, and he might help me out.

So there’s my dilemma, laid out before this blogosphere. I think everyone knows our government isn’t perfect, so there’s no need for a big long rant. I rather just remind us all that it’s so important that we not only pray for our nation and it’s leaders, but to do more and to educate ourselves about our government and do what we can to vote the best leaders in place and voice our opinions on changes we need made.

Ending on a positive note, I will say that I was pretty intimidated by the amount of phone work I had to do through this situation. I was fortunate to talk with people who all spoke very clearly, and did have several times when I had to ask someone to repeat themselves or slow down. All in all, I’d say I’m doing pretty good on this recovery road to hearing!

Never fear, my sidekick is still near.

I’ve been absent. It’s true. I think it’s been, what, a week and a half since I’ve blogged last? Quite possibly longer…

I’ve been busy having pictures taken, taking pictures, and planning and attending events.

Yesterday we hosted one particular event. Think of fourteen screaming happy girls (most under 5yrs old) at a luau birthday party, complete with flip flop decorating, fun, and  lots and lots of sugar. And more screaming. Happy screaming, but still. My ears were ringing by the time they left. Heck, my ears are still ringing.

And guess who turned 4? My little munchkin of a girl is who! Also known as my sidekick.

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Hard to believe she’s four years old.

A few things about her that are interesting. You know how when you have your first kid, you’re terrified of placing him in his own bedroom for a good six months? And you know how when your second kid comes along, you’re so sleep deprived at that point that you place the baby in her own room before she’s a month old?

Yeah, it happens.

And to all those parents of one kid who think they’d do the same thing with their second as their first kid?

Heh heh. Suuuuuure…

But the interesting thing about my girl is that at two weeks old, we let her sleep in her room the first time. My husband was ready to wake me at any point in the night if he heard her through the baby monitor, but imagine our surprise when he slept through the entire night without hearing her cry. I woke up that morning to sun streaming through our window, made a mad dash to her room, and found her sleeping peacefully. So peacefully that I had to wake her soon after to get her to eat, and it was from that point on that she never woke once in the night.

While I enjoyed not having to get up with two kids while she was a baby (my son still woke constantly at night while she was a baby), I enjoy hearing her myself now with my cochlear implant. No more not hearing her cry, depending on my husband to wake me up. No more asking my son to tell me what she’s saying when she’s finally talking-age, simply because I couldn’t understand her. No more temper tantrums from her from the frustrations of me not being able to hear what she wants. No more emotional breakdowns when I felt like I was failing my children as a mother.

We’re good now. She’s still my sidekick. But these days we have full-fledged conversations. You know, like no she can’t wear makeup outside the house until she’s 12. Or no, she can’t marry her brother. Or yes, she can be a princess and get married someday (she thinks anyone in a white dress is therefore a princess).

She has so many questions, mostly about things completely frivolous. But let me say, I enjoy hearing and answering every single one of them.

Nothing says holidays like a cheese log

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Holidays are the former bane of my existence as a deaf girl. So were drive-thru lanes. And phones. And conversation with human beings as a whole.

But now that I have a cochlear implant?

The other morning I thought about the upcoming holidays. Hard to believe we’re rapidly approaching the season again, isn’t it? And with that thought, I almost had an emotional breakdown because I realized something that I haven’t really thought about much in a long time.

This will be another first for me.

As I’ve hit my six month’s post activation of my cochlear implant, there really aren’t so many wow I heard that moments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not complaining. I love hearing, and I love that it’s not so emotionally overwhelming anymore. It was rough those first few months when every time I heard something new, I’d practically bawl my eyes out because I was so happy I’d heard that something again. With all the tears, I had to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated! But in all seriousness, while I did love those moments of hearing things again for the first time, I’ve also enjoyed slowing down to just enjoying every day, hearing the same things, in a routine of sorts.

But oh, the holidays.

Who doesn’t love the holidays?

Even last year, as much as I wanted to hate the holidays, I do love them. I love spending time with family, enjoying their company, and hearing kids squeal in delight when they’ve opened an unexpected gift. And I love music. Classic Christmas songs, revised pop versions, rock versions, and every other kind.

This will be the first set of holidays that I can enjoy in a very long time as a hearing person. I’m crying just thinking about it!

And I’m excited. I’m excited about hearing this season for the first time again after so very long. I’m under no impression to think that this won’t be the best year yet.

Testing – 1,2,3

I think it’s time for some tests. Self-imposed tests.

I want to mark my progress, how far I’ve come in this hearing journey, so I want to see where I stand with this cochlear implant of mine. Now that I’ve just hit the six month post-activation mark, I think it’s a great time to do some tests. Ok, maybe not tests, but more or less observing what I can and can’t hear at this point. It’s not that I want to really want know what I can’t hear, and limit myself, but the thing about a cochlear implant is that it takes work to hear better or understand more. If I figure out what I can’t hear, I can target my listening therapy and probably fix the issue.

What I can hear:

My children are playing in the living room with toys, while I’m writing this in my bedroom, in the next room. I can hear them talking to each other, I can tell the difference between the voices, and sometimes I can understand what one of them is saying. I can hear the tone of voice and know that they aren’t fighting or crying, but again, I’m only actually picking up 10% of what is being said.

What I can’t hear:

The full conversation. I can pick up every few sentences, but I can’t understand enough to conclude what they’re talking about.

One of the big things I’ve learned over the past few weeks is that I am really good at watching TV and movies now. But only in the right conditions. Movies in the theater I can pick up about 90%, probably pretty close to what an average hearing person picks up. I can pick up the same amount in a television show if I’m using a cord that goes directly from the speaker to my processor. Several nights a week my husband and I will lay in bed at night with his laptop, which has two headphone outputs. He uses headphones, and my audio cable goes from the other headphone output and connects directly to my CI. Pretty much the exact same as wearing headphones. I do the same thing with the speakers from my desktop computer.

At six months post activation, I have noticed limitations. The reason I can’t pick up the full conversation of my children in the living room, is because they aren’t in the same room as me. So it’s quieter from where I’m sitting, trying to listen to them. And the same goes with watching television in the living room. It’s not a clear and distinct sound, when the sound is bouncing off my wood and tile floors, than if I had my cable attached directly to my CI. Another thing to consider is that my flatscreen is probably fifteen feet from my sofa.

I know all this info is probably boring you, but I know I have to catalog it here. I’ve been spending about one hour, three to four times a week, watching television from the living room to get used to the difference in sound. Therapy sure is hard, isn’t it? Laugh, because it is kinda funny, but the more I watch television in the living room, the more I will be able to eventually understand the words coming from it. I’ve done this for about two weeks already, and I can tell I’m understanding just slightly more than when I started. It’s all a big huge process.

Hopefully my “therapy” will evolve into other aspects as well. The unfiltered bouncing around sounds from the television, that I will eventually be able to understand, will most likely help me understand my children from a different room. My concentration on therapy at this point is to listen to sounds that are imperfect. My brain needs to learn to adapt to it’s surroundings and understand the sounds that are not directly imported to my CI.

Time will tell! I will definitely check in about this again at the one year mark and see how far I’ve come. What amazes me is that I can hear so much. I’m fine-tuning now, not trying desperately to just understand one word from another. I’m hearing, I’m just working on perfecting, something I know will be a lifelong process. One I look forward to!

Letters of my past

This week was a rough week for me personally.

My baby boy turned five last month, and if that wasn’t enough to make me weepy, he started kindergarten on Tuesday.
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More than those reasons for a difficult week, this week required something of me that I’ve really not thought much of.

Years ago, when my husband and I decided to have kids, we talked about the chances of our children inheriting the hearing loss condition that runs through many of my family. At that time, I had probably not even lost fifty percent of my hearing, and I really didn’t expect that I’d lose much more, if any. When my husband and I talked about it, we mutually decided that I lived a normal enough life, a very happy life, and we felt peace about having children. It really wasn’t a difficult decision for either of us.

After having my son, my first child, I had lost a significant portion of my hearing, and my husband and I knew that we’d only have one child. We certainly didn’t expect that I’d get pregnant with my daughter when my son was just five months old, but as a great many parents know, sometimes the unexpected brings quite a bit of joy.

I never think about what our lives would be like without our children. Some may pass judgement on me for choosing to have kids, but I never really think about that either. And another thing I don’t think about? Other than the one day my husband and I talked about whether or not we would have kids, I never think about whether or not my children will ever have hearing loss.

But this week I was forced to think about it.

Because of certain circumstances, I felt a strong obligation last week to really consider my children’s future. I’m not going to spend time worrying about what-ifs, but I did have to write a letter.

The letter I wrote was to my son’s kindergarten teacher. I told her briefly about my own hearing loss, I told her that it is a hereditary condition, and I asked her to look after my son. As a parent, this letter was by far the hardest letter I’ve ever in my life had to write. I didn’t cry, I just wrote a bunch of facts, but as I sit here and write about it, I’m overwhelmed at the emotions that I realize I hold at bay. To date, my son has shown no serious signs of hearing loss. But what I needed from his kindergarten teacher, was for her to be aware of conditions that may show up in his year-long tenure with her. I pray often for my son, that he never has what I do, but at the same time I want him to have every opportunity to succeed as a child. I want so much for him to have the best, even unimaginable, life as possible.

I hope that, by not denying to be aware of the situation, that I make a better life for my children than I had when I refused to admit my difficulties with hearing. I will be honest, though, and say that I genuinely hope and pray that the cycle of this hearing loss is broken with my children. I know it can be.

I pray for myself sometimes too. I pray that God gives me the endurance emotionally to hit this thing head on. To be prepared for it, even if it never happens.

Most of all, I pray for my kids. And I welcome your prayers too.

Half-year Anniversary

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Today marks my six month hearing anniversary with my cochlear implant.

When couples tell me they’ve hit the 6 month mark, whether married or dating, I roll my eyes and think puh-leeze! Six months is really not that long. And I seriously thought about saying nothing at all about it. I mean, it’s natural that I want to hit my one year hearing anniversary with a big bang, but six months? Well, I had to think about it a little, which is probably why I waited until the late evening to even post.

But I really had to.

I asked myself  a few questions today.

What have I done that I couldn’t do before February 17th?

I talked to three people on the phone today. One of those people wasn’t related, nor have I ever met that person. I’ve seen four movies at the movie theater in the past 6 months, none with captions. I’ve come to count four women, all unrelated to me, as friends now. Not just any kind of friend, but closer than that. I can’t yet say that we’re really really close, since I feel like I’ve only known them for 6 months (even though I did talk to them before that), but I know we’ll grow closer still in the 6 months before my one year mark. If it’s even possible, I’ve grown closer to my mom, my dad, and my sister. Other than my husband, they’ve been my rock of support over the last many years.

The biggest things? I’ve become a better, more understanding wife. I’m a better mother. I’ve developed a more patient attitude to both my husband and my children. I have a closer relationship with my children, and carry on many conversations throughout the day. I answer many more questions from my kids, but I also teach them more about life as a whole.

I’m much more confident. I’m more outgoing. I laugh more often. I have a more positive outlook on my life. I enjoy life much more now. The depression I constantly fought while deaf has rapidly decreased, something I’m confident I won’t battle by the time I hit my one year mark.

It’s been a great 6 months.

And I’m anticipating the next.