Monday, September 26, 2016

Hearing loss......again.

Chance's brother Ammon is experiencing more hearing loss.  We thought we had gotten a grip on the falling hearing loss that hit him about 2 years ago. We got the implant in one ear and just bought a new hearing aid for the other ear a few weeks ago. 
 It turns out that whatever causes the hearing loss is back. When we went in for our audiological appointment a few weeks ago, I told the audiologist that Ammon has been asking me "what" much more often lately and that he didn't seem to be hearing as well. The first thing they checked was his implant. His implant seemed to be working just fine and when we went into the hearing booth, Ammon heard well.
Then they had Ammon take his implant off and just use his hearing aid in the hearing booth. Ammon likes me to be in the booth with him when he has hearing tests so I am almost always there when they test his hearing. It is always a bit interesting for me when I am sitting in the booth listening and hearing the sentences and words coming from the audiologist through a speaker and then realizing that while I am hearing what is being said, my son is not.  At one point during this last appointment, Ammon turned to me in the booth and shrugged because he had no guesses as to what was being said. I could hear everything. I always have to put on a poker face and give no indication  if what Ammon repeats after the words or sentences is correct or incorrect. My heart sinks a little when I realize that he is not hearing what is being said or seems to be hearing less than he did before.

The loss is in Ammon's hearing aid side explains why he has been asking me what more often lately.  It is true that he has an implant, but Ammon really likes that hearing aided ear. When he first got the implant, he would turn his head so that his hearing aid was facing me if we were in a noisy environment. I think he really feels the loss of hearing in that ear. The audiologist says that Ammon is truly a bilateral kid, relying on both ears to hear.
Ammon doesn't really complain about his hearing loss or things related to it. The day before we went in to see the audiologist, Ammon mentioned that he is dizzy most of the time and that only when he is playing does he not notice it as much. I think playing with friends distracts him enough so that he doesn't feel it as much, but when he is trying to do school work, or is just sitting quietly, he notices that the dizziness is there.  At the audiologists office, Ammon also mentioned that along with dizziness, he gets headaches too. He didn't tell us this stuff was going on, and when he did mention the dizziness, I was glad that we were going in to see the audiologists because if Ammon mentioned it, that means that it really must be impacting him.
So, here we go on the journey again.  The audiologist says he thinks the hearing will just continue to fall just like his other ear did.  Ammon is already in cochlear implant range as far as hearing, but our audiologist says that we should keep the hearing aid as long as it will work because there are advantages that come with having both kinds of hearing.  So we will watch and see what happens now.  We got the hearing aid programmed to match the new loss.  We are keeping an eye on the hearing and will go back to the audiologist in the next few months to check the hearing again.  Sooner if we need to.
Right now, we just wait and see what happens. Whatever is causing the hearing loss is back again and no one knows why it is happening. We are buckling up for the journey again.  We don't know where exactly we will end up, but we know that if the hearing continues to fall, there will most likely be another cochlear implant in our future.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Water polo/soccer

We went down south this weekend to see Chance's grandparents.  There is a river by their house that the kids love to play in and this time, we had some skim boards that the kids could use to play on. We only had two boards though, so in between turns, Chance and his brother came up with a game that is a mix between soccer and water polo.

Of course Chance brought his soccer ball to the river, who doesn't? Soccer balls are really good at floating and a few times I grabbed the ball when it started to make a break for downstream.

The boys were having a great time playing the game and it was very entertaining to watch. There were goals, but it was really hard to tell where they were since we were all standing in the middle of a silt filled river. The river was a brown color from all of the sand that the water was carrying. The river is surrounded by beautiful red rocks so the sand is a reddish brown color and it seeps into everything. Your shoes and swimming suits carry home some sand whether you want them to or not.  For this reason Chance elected not to wear his implants at the river since sandy implants do not perform at optimal levels.  This made the soccer/polo game even more interesting since Chance couldn't hear, but he and his brother worked it all out.  Chance used his amazing lip reading skills and as brothers they have their own special language anyway.

The water is a very pleasant temperature and is quite shallow in most places which makes it fun to play in.

The River

The boys discuss the rules to their new soccer/polo game

Chance goes after the floating ball to catch it before it gets into his goal

Fancy footwork 

Rerouting the ball away from the goal

Chance found a friend at his grandparents house and it hitched a ride on his hoodie

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Chance as you know has been talking to the rest of us in Mandarin for a while now. The fact that nobody in the family knows Mandarin but Chance doesn't  bother him in the least.  I do have to say though, that since Chance uses certain words all of the time, sometimes I can figure out what he may be saying.  I don't think I could engage in a conversation with a native Mandarin speaker, but if they said hello to me or said goodnight, I might get the gist of what they were saying.
Chance added a new aspect to our Mandarin experience this week. I sat down and realized that Chance was watching a Chinese movie he had found on Netflix. The movie had English subtitles but Chance expressed that Netflix needed to have a better understanding of which language they decided to list.  The movie itself was actually in Cantonese but Netflix said the language was Mandarin in the explanation.  Furthermore, there were several times when the movie would show books that people were reading and the books were written in Mandarin.
Chance wanted a bit more continuity.  I made Chance turn the movie off to save for later viewing because a city was being ravaged by giant scary creatures and this was a bit intense for his younger siblings.
Maybe we should all start watching more movies in Mandarin with subtitles with Chance.  As long as the movie description is truthful about which language is being spoken and there are not scary beasts involved.

Chance finishing his Mandarin/Cantonese movie on the laptop. 

Monday, September 05, 2016

Chance can drive by himself!!

Well, it is official.  Three year old little Chance can now drive. Did I say three? Maybe it just seems like he should still be three, time just flies by so fast.

Chance feels like he has had his learners permit forever, and since his birthday is in May, many of his peers in school have had their drivers licenses already for months. It is true that Chance could have taken the driver's education class earlier, before his birthday, but it worked out in the schedule that Chance took a summer session of driver's education.  Many schools in our area offer this class as an elective that the kids can choose to take in school. Chance attends a charter school so driver's ed is not taught on campus and is instead offered by a private driving school.

Whatever route he took to get there, Chance's journey to get his driver's license is now complete. Chance has passed this rite of passage and now has the power to get himself to places without having to have a parent along for the drive. Alas, he doesn't have his own car, so he uses family cars to drive around, but he still gets in plenty of drive time. Chance now drives to school and back with his little sister, and he has a job he is working at for the next few weeks that he can get himself to and from.

Chance can also get himself to soccer practice which makes him very happy as he isn't waiting on family members to come and get him after practice.

Chance can also now drive himself and a date to places, which is an important stepping stone in a teenage boys' life.

He can also run errands to the store for his mom.  That is one of my favorite parts of Chance having a driver's license.

When we walked out of the Department of Motor Vehicle Department after Chance had acquired his license, Chance had a request.  He wanted to drive home solo.  I think he took the long way home too, as the rest of us got home long before Chance did.  He took the canyon route home. Except that you don't go through the canyon to get to our house.  Chance went past our house, and then up the canyon just so he could feel the wind on his face as he drove alone for the first time with the windows down.

When Chance got home, he said he expected to feel a lot different driving by himself. He didn't. Oh well, Chance now has some newfound independence with his ability to drive. And he loves it.

And he's off!

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Family Reunion

Summer - tis the season for long sunny days, swimming pools and family reunions.  We attended our licorice family reunion yesterday.  No one is named licorice, but as a family going back several generations, perhaps since the beginning of time, we all love licorice.  Especially black licorice.  It is in the genes.  As a manifestation of this fact, a large basket of licorice was placed on a table near the pavilion where the reunion was held and family members were able to eat at will.  There was lots of licorice in that basket, and by the end of the evening, the basket was empty. The black licorice went first of course.

Along with a love for licorice, the family loves to use the giant hill near my aunts house as a slip and slide. My aunt and uncle have access to a giant piece of plastic that they lay out down the hill.  The result is sheer bliss.  You get to ride down forever and then you hike up the hill so you can do it all again.

After  eating a picnic lunch and getting wet on the slide for a while,  the adults and several children gathered in the pavilion to hear family stories about my grandma and her siblings.  Most of them have died now, but their spirits are still strong and live on through the rest of us. I love to hear the stories about relatives and how they are just like us.  One aunt told the story of my great grandmother and how she liked to play jokes.  She lived well into her 90's so I remember her and went to her house several times while I was growing up.  She had the best toys and games for kids to play, things we didn't see anywhere else, and my cousins and I had a grand time playing in her backyard.

As everyone gathered to hear the stories, the kids would go back and forth from the pavilion to the water slide.  Ammon would come and sit next to me and listen to the stories and then head down the water slide.  He would take off his hearing aid and implant, hand them to me to hold, go down the slide, come back and listen again for a while and then go back to the slide.

At some point, Ammon got upset at his sister and came running over to the pavilion.  Ammon is not quiet when he doesn't have his devices on and as I saw him running towards me, I could tell he was upset.  I knew right at that moment, that he was going to run over to me, tell me why he was upset, and that every relative listening to the stories would hear what he had to say.  I got up to meet him so that we were a ways off from the pavilion when he expressed his thoughts to me.  He was mad at his sister, and in typical Ammon style, he was quite loud as he told me the details. Ammon does not seem to be bothered by the presence of other people when he is expressing himself when upset. He doesn't always respond to the "evil eye" either which is the look every mother gives when she is non-verbally telling her offspring to be quiet.  I was glad that I met Ammon a bit away from the pavilion so he didn't interrupt the story telling. Ammon also can't fully hear my responses when he doesn't have devices on. Chance can read my lips but Ammon has not mastered that yet.

We had a lovely time at the reunion and we also got to explain some things about implants and deafness to extended family. Our boys are the only deaf children on either side of the family.  A few of the more senior relatives on both sides have hearing aids, but that is a different ball game with different causes.

The Cannibal

This week Ammon's grandpa took him and some of his cousins to an amusement park.  It has become a yearly tradition, this visit to the amusement park.  My dad took me and my siblings each summer when we were growing up, and now as a grandfather, he takes the grand kids.

I went along to help corral little bodies this time and I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we all had a great time.

The amusement park has all sorts of rides ranging from a massive ferris wheel that takes you up way above the trees where you can look across the entire valley, to a roller coaster called Cannibal.  Cannibal as you can imagine is not for the faint of heart.  As you approach the ride there are signs all along the path that say that cannibal will eat your cell phone, wallet, sunglasses and anything else in your pocket.  In fact, you are required to leave any items in your possession in lockers off to the side of the ride before you board.

The list of things cannibal would eat did not specifically include cochlear implants and hearing aids, but employing my skills of deduction, I figured hearing devices may be in danger on this ride.  Luckily, grandpa had already taken cannibal for a ride earlier in the summer so he was willing to be "the holder" of all items the rest of us needed to have secured. This included Ammon's implant and hearing aid.  This of course meant that Ammon could not hear anything once we got in line.  I felt kind of bad about that as he missed out on conversations happening with cousins, but unlike Chance, Ammon can actually hear some things with out his hearing devices.  It is hard to know exactly what he hears, but he can hear if you are real close to him in the ear that takes a hearing aid.

On one hand, not being able to hear everything worked in Ammon's favor because his cousin and sister started expressing their reservations about the cannibal ride.  I was sitting in the middle with Ammon and Ammon's cousin and sister were on the ends.  The lap bar had just come down and locked us down so tight that we could barely feel our legs, when Ammon's cousin who is his age said:
"Why am I on this ride again?  Why did I do this? Okay, okay, I think I can do this, yes I think I can do this again."

Ammon's sister said:

"Mom, I don't know that being on the outside is safe here at the front of the car.  You should have switched me spots."

Nothing like a boost of assurance as one gets ready to embark on a ride for the first time as Ammon and I were doing.

The ride moved from the loading dock, to a sort of elevator shaft, where the car was taken up several stories and then deposited on a track high above the parking lot.  From there, the car shifts forward and a door comes down blocking the way from where you just came. You find yourself looking out across the valley high above the rest of the world for just a moment before your car turns and plunges down a long winding track at great speeds.  Ammon and I were holding hands when we went up the elevator shaft.  As we began our decent downward on the twisted track, I figured maybe we should hold onto the rails in front of us instead.

It was a spectacular ride with loop the loops where you found yourself hanging upside down and a stretch where you went through little arch's of water.

We all lived. After experiencing the Cannibal, I am thinking that taking off the implant and hearing aid was the right decision.  That would have been a loooooooong fall down to the parking lot below and I don't know that we could have resuscitated hearing devices that had experienced such an adventurous fall.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

California trip the sequel

Our family trip this summer was a visit to central California.  We have seen southern California a few times, but this was the first time for many of us in the family to see the middle part of the state.  The beaches are more rocky, and the temperature is much cooler than Southern California.  I was continually surprised at how cool it was considering it was the middle of July. 
The coast had a rugged beauty and we had a fun time exploring some of the tide pools,
meeting some intriguing creatures and watching as the tide moved in. 

Chance was a little crazy, it was a cool day and Chance is the only one who got down to his swimming suit. The rest of us wore jackets with our shorts. 

Chance actually met some students studying here in the United States from China.  One of the girls shared the same name as Chance so she wanted to get a picture with him.  Chance got a moment to practice a bit of his Mandarin too.

We all took a turn holding these little starfish.  They were beautiful.
Adorable little starfish hanging out in the tide pools. 

This little crab actually pinched Chance's brother. He kind of had it coming since he picked it up.

We did not see jelly fish at the beach, but we saw them in the aquarium.  There is something magical  and serene about these creatures when you watch them floating in the water.
I am sure that may change if you actually encounter one in the water, but watching them from a distance is calming.

Chance and I enjoying a drive down the coast.
Yes, Chance just continues to get taller. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Road trips and Redwood Trees

We went on a family vacation to central California this month.  We drove, which  meant Chance and his siblings had lots of time to bond in the car.  The kids got along really well for the most part, there were a few spats over who got to sit where as there are some coveted seats that all the kids want to sit in.  The middle seats in the van are the most popular spots to sit.  Now that Chance can drive though, his first preference is taking a turn behind the wheel.

We were able to experience many lovely things while on vacation and had a wonderful time being together as a family.  One of the highlights of our trip was when we found a little swimming hole among the giant redwood trees.   The water was cold, but since it was hot outside, it made a great place to swim and play. There was a rope tied onto a tree at the edge of the river and the kids loved swinging out and letting go so they could land in the water.

Chance and his brother in a tree by the river

Chance discovering treasures in the water.
Chance and his brother decided they should climb a redwood tree.  We heard Chance's voice from somewhere heaven word say: "It is really really high up here!"

Chance is the one with the blue shirt and tan pants.
Chance had a great time on vacation.  We had a great time watching him.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

The drive thru

Chance and I went through a drive through at McDonalds so that he could get some food before going to work.  Hearing over the speaker in the drive-thru can be difficult for Chance and he was having a hard time understanding the man asking questions.

Chance ordered one item off the menu and the drive-thru guy asked: "Is that all?"

Chance looked at me since he didn't understand what the guy had said.

I nodded my head and told him to say yes.

Meanwhile, because we were not answering right away, the guy asked again but in a different way.
"Would you like anything else with that?" I told Chance to say no.

Chance said no and then started driving to the pick- up window.  "Mom! You say yes, then no, it's confusing!"

I explained that the guy in the drive-thru kept asking questions that needed different answers.

Chance likes drive-thru's for the convenience just like everybody else, but hearing through the intercom at the drive-thru can be a challenge.