Posts Tagged ‘kids’

My little boy. His first hearing test.

eMcGMini_Shook_034b

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.

Energizer Bunny {or batteries} not included

There are a whole lot of good things that have come my way since the activation of my cochlear implant seven months ago. My marriage was revamped, my relationship with my kids blossomed, and I’ve made a zillion friends now that I can hear everyone.

This past month I’ve come across the biggest, hugest, most ginormous obstacle that a cochlear implant recipient has. While I realize it is my own opinion and may not be shared by all, I personally think my opinion is the most accurate.

My hearing right now is completely, one hundred percent battery operated. Big big big deal.

Back when I wore hearing aids, my hearing was also battery operated, so I realize that I should be used to this by now. But I’m not. The simple fact of the matter is that back when I had hearing aids, they helped me go from about a ten percent hearing comprehension to about a fifty percent hearing comprehension. In a group setting though, with or without those hearing aids I was probably only about a ten percent comprehension. Groups were so not my thing. I was lucky if I could just understand what the topic of conversation was, much less understand what they were actually saying about that topic.

Now that I have a cochlear implant, I still understand about ten percent (or less) if I don’t have my processor on. With my processor on, I think I catch around eighty percent of conversation. Serious difference. In group settings, that eighty percent doesn’t even vary much unless I’m in a very noisy environment or a very big group. So generally speaking, if my battery were to go out, it would be a pretty big deal to not be able to hear now. A much bigger deal than it used to be.

Here’s the kicker though.

Back when I had hearing aids, I had two. So when one battery went out, it was annoying. My conversation skills suffered a little, but most of the time I wasn’t catching much anyway, so it was frustrating, but not much more than that.

Skip forward to today. I have one, singe, lone cochlear implant. So when my processor battery dies, it’s like my whole world of conversation dies right along with it.

Sometimes I feel kinda sorry for my mom. She’s driven miles out of her way to take spare batteries to my dad and my sister on multiple occasions when their processor batteries died, but until a month ago, I was the good CI recipient. I kept thinking, why didn’t they keep enough spare batteries with them? Aren’t they both old enough to remember that type of thing? To be responsible adults?

It’s funny how those types of thoughts come back to bite you in the butt. Don’t look at me like you’ve not thought those same things about someone and not had them happen to you. I know the truth.

So a month ago I was volunteering at a big event and my processor battery dies. My mom is my family’s lifesaver, and I called upon her power of batteries in my time of need. Thanks, Mom, we love you.

While I try really hard to always remember backup batteries or to charge my rechargeable ones, it’s just impossible to always always remember. There are just times when it completely sucks that my battery dies because I was in too big of a hurry to dash out the door.

Sometimes I do remember to bring spare batteries with me, but it still somehow just doesn’t go down well. Two weeks ago I took my kids to Six Flags Over Texas. When my sister-in-law and her kids joined us mid-day, my processor battery suddenly died. I had a spare in my purse, but unfortunately I had left it locked in the car. My sister-in-law graciously offered to watch my kids, so I made a quick jog out of the ginormous park and all the way through the parking lot to my car. When I got to my car, I remembered that I had locked my purse inside. And my keys were back inside the park in my daughter’s stroller. Arg!!!

You don’t even want to know how worn out I was after jogging back inside, back out to the car, and back inside again.

Let this be a lesson for all of you with perfect hearing. Be very very thankful that you’re not battery operated. It can really stink sometimes. Granted, you won’t ever catch me ungrateful for this device I have, no matter that it costs me a few extra moments of preparation for my day (and throughout my day). Just be aware of it, and remember this random information about us cochlear implant recipients.

Too bad those Energizer batteries really don’t last a lifetime.

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!

Roller Coasters.

I searched a little bit before my cochlear implant surgery to see if I’d still be able to ride roller coasters. I’ve searched again a few times post-surgery and activation too.

And I really never find much. I’ve read a lot from other CI users about how it’s better to take off your processor on more thrilling rides, simply so you don’t want your processor (the outer portion of your CI that looks similar to a hearing-aid) to fly off or anything.

But I’ve never really specifically read anything that said, “Yes, it’s perfectly fine to ride any and all roller coasters with the implant in your head. It won’t move, come out of place, or anything similar.” Again, let me emphasize that I’ve never read that. Anywhere. Nor has my doctor ever said it. Or have any definite answers for it.

Enter the human guinea pig. Me!

My husband and I got Six Flags Over Texas season passes for our family of four. Monday was a school holiday.

I rode this ride with my son.
photo.JPG

This is the Shock Wave. By roller coaster standards these days, it’s not very crazy. It goes up to sixty miles per hour, and it has these two loops after the first big hill.

Now I’m no expert, but when I went through that first loop, I can only assume that feeling the popping sensation in my left/surgical ear wouldn’t exactly be smiled upon. The disorientation for the remainder of the ride might not be an ideal situation either.

So there you go. Roller coasters with loops are not recommended by this CI candidate.

Don’t worry though, I’m not done here. That was just my first experience and I have many more to follow. Eventually. I didn’t think my stomach could quite handle another one quite yet. I think I can handle speed on my next trip, but those loops were a little much that day.

Next time it will be speed. Yes, definitely have to test a fast one. (Just no loops).

New me. New picture.

Some of you, all of you, or maybe just a few of you might have visited my “About Me” page at some point or another during the last [almost] two years of my blogging. If you did, you’d have formerly seen a picture I’d always figured kinda summed me up.

This one.
CIMG5934

When I took the picture, it was long before I had my cochlear implant surgery, and back when I struggled as a deaf person. Being born hearing but late deafened, my first year here as a blogger was my most difficult one. My children were still toddlers, my marriage was bumpy, and while I really wanted to be happy, it was just so very hard to be. I never quite looked life in the eye.

But now? Almost seven months post-activation of my cochlear implant, I know I’m a completely different person.

This is me.

eMcGMini_Shook_117b

I normally hate pictures of me. I’m just not one of those people who is comfortable with being photographed, but I got this picture in the mail this week from the photographer we used a few weeks back for family pics. And I love it. I’m such a visual person, and it’s here in this picture that I can see for myself just how much I really am different. It’s one thing to feel it, but for me it’s something completely different to see it.

Thank you McGowan Images for this tangible product of my life now.

I gotta go find a kleenex now!

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.

ada

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.

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.
2

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.