June 21, 2005
We just learnt about BLOGGING and felt a need to share with other parents of deaf children our story. Sometimes listening or reading what others have to say, can give you the answer you need. There is no need to be shy and wonder, "will I offend the other person if I ask them a question about being DEAF"? So the intent of this story is to share our experiences, hoping that some parent might read it and give them insight to a world of possibility. If you can dream the dream, someone can make it a reality for you....JUST BELIEVE!!
Girlfriends are the greatest gift you get in life! We are truly thankful to our friend Sue, it was she who was actually brave enough to bring to my attention that something was wrong with our daughter's hearing.
We had a great system where both of us were stay-at-home moms who also worked part time and the deal was we would swap babysitting duties. She worked one day a week at the dental office and I worked two days a week as a literacy coordinator. My daughter would attend playschool both mornings and she would babysit for me those two afternoons, in turn, I would have her son for the full day that she was gone. Looking back....we had it made. Someone who you could trust your child with and also regain some of those skills from not being in the working world for a few years.
It was during one of those afternoons that Sue became concerned. She was walking back from the local grocery store and there was a vehicle approaching. She had her son in the stroller and my daughter was walking infront of them. She actually had her neice that day as well and because both girls attended playschool together, they were chatting up a storm and skipping along ahead of Sue. Sue yelled at both girls to watch out for the car. Her neice immediately stopped and turned around at her aunt. My daughter heard nothing. Sue then scream at the top of her lungs (to the point of her body shaking) and our daughter heard NOTHING!!!! Later that day Sue brought up her concerns and then our hearing journey began.
We contacted our local hospital and was referred to the speech pathologist for an audiology assessment! Yes, it sound silly now, but when you live in rural Alberta, you get what you get. The speech pathologist, who was a friend of ours, was away on maternity leave and her replacement was from New Zealand. We lucked out because she had her masters in audiology. After some initial testing, we were immediately referred to the Children's Hospital in Calgary, Alberta.
On July 27, 1999 we met with an audiologist who became our lifeline. Our daughter was diagnosed with a bilateral mild dropping to a moderately-serve, recovering to a moderate sensorineural hearing loss. WOW! Who knew? She was fitted with Digital BTE's and everything was great-- she could hear again. During the next year, we visited Calgary for adjustments to her hearing aids and each time we were there, we had more hearing loss to deal with. By April 2000, we were visiting the hospital every two weeks for adjustments, our daughter was loosing her hearing at a significant rate. At this point, I started to research on the internet about hearing loss and what other possibilities there were available to our daughter. I learnt about COCHLEAR IMPLANTS on the net and then approach our audiologist at our next visit. At this point, our daughter's hearing loss wasn't severe enough to be a candidate for an implant. A month later, our daughter's hearing loss met the criteria for the implant and we requested a meeting with the CI team. After the meeting with the CI team, we asked for a referral to another hospital for consultation. This would help us with the decision to go ahead with the surgery or not.
We were referred to the Glenrose Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta and met with our current audiologist. She was a great wealth of information and was able to show us two different implants available for our daughter. She gave us information on both systems and from there we made the decision to have surgery with the ADVANCED BIONICS implant. There was no discussion on "if" we would go for it, the question for us was "when" could this happen for our child. Our daughter performed a battery of tests prior to the approval of the surgery.
Our daugther received her COCHLEAR IMPLANT on August 31, 2000. I carried her into the operating room and I was in post-op when she came out. Five years after surgery, she can talk about how she felt during that time and she says that she had a headache for about three days. As soon as we came home from the hospital she was out playing with the rest of the neighbourhood kids.
We went to the hospital on October 2, 2000 for our daughter's COCHLEAR IMPLANT to be activiated. Grandma and Great-Grandma drove three hours to be there for this important day in their grandaughters life. Well, I must say that we experienced some dissapointment that morning. After sitting there for a few hours with not a whole bunch of visible success to me, we left for home. I remember thinking at the time, why did I put my child through this? We truly only wanted our child to have the possibility of hearing a fire alarm and possibly a vehicle -- we went with the implant purely for safety reasons. Any chance of saving her life was worth the risk of surgery to us.
We drove home and I went directly to the fire alarm in our house. PLEASSSSSSSE, I remember thinking....let her hear it. Nothing! Well like most families, we eat, and it was after the lunch hour so we need to replenish of bodies. Being that this was such a momentous day in our lives, we went for lunch. It was at the restaurant....Grandma was sitting across from her and she noticed that our daughter's body was swaying to the beat of the music in the restaurant. Let me tell you, I cried like a baby at that point. I cried just knowing that there was some success with the surgery and that there was a POSSIBILITY!!!!!!!!!! Again, after we returned home from lunch, I immediately went to the fire alarm (without her seeing me) and presto.....she heard it. Again, my tears fell. All I wanted was for her to hear a fire alarm and a vehicle---at this point I knew I had one of the two.
Our daughter had some confusion with sound at first, but after about two weeks SHE GOT IT! The brain is an amazing thing to be able to 'switch' so fast and adapt.
Our school has supported our daugher with a full time teacher aid and a FM system. She has had the same T.A. for the past six years who has been a second mother to her. The T.A. has been a great advocate within the school system and has provided us with a wealth of knowledge with assistance at home. We have an educational consultant who specifically works with the hard of hearing and has been very proactive in getting the correct supports to assist our daughter with academic success.
Like any other parent, our dreams for our daughter are high. If she continues with her academic success, she will be attending university and will become whatever she dreams to be.
The COCHLEAR IMPLANT has been an amazing gift to our daughter and to our family. It has allowed her to lead an independent life which is what every parent wants for their child. She has the ability to learn and grow with her peers. Instead of looking at our daughter's deafness as a problem, we see it as an amazing gift that has taught us how the human spirit can change, transition and succeed. Her happy-go-lucky personality and smile, along with her CI will take her to places that we have always dreamed for her.