Thursday, June 29, 2006

We are discovering plurals............

Chance had his second session of therapy yesterday. We started to work on putting an 's' at the end of a word to make it plural. By the end of therapy, Chance was adding the 's' by himself to some of the words. He even said strawberries with clear s's on both ends of the word. It is very exciting to hear Chance use the letter s and begin to realize that you can pluralize words. Before Chance would say "I want more," or "I want two", instead of I want two cookies. More and more Chance is able to hear you when you call his name, even if there is some background noise. And I have noticed that he hears me when I am talking about everyday things like "go clean your room." (he might have actually enjoyed not hearing that one, but no pain no gain).

One activity that we have found besides swimming that Chance can not participate in with the implant on is gymnastics. With all of the jumping, swinging and vaulting, the implant can not hold on. We'll have to try the body unit. We just found out that Cochlear (the brand of implant that Chance has) is working on making the implant stay better on little kids ears. That is nice to hear.

Chance's sister took his implant off and came and put it in my lap tonight. She used to take his hearing aids off too. When she first started doing it, she was just curious. Nobody but Chance had those and she would try to put them behind her own ears. Then she realized that it got a reaction and she could get at Chance by doing it. At least she put it in my lap. I must say this is a trend we do not want to continue though. Surely there are other ways to get your brother's attention.

I feel as if the implant is a part of the family now. When we go places, we include it in the head count. Do we have all of the kids? Do we have the implant? Where is Chance? Where is the implant? Sometimes when we have to go places first thing in the morning, or right after Chance has showered or gone swimming, we ask each other as we are driving down the driveway, "do we have Chance's ears?" Not many parents get to have that conversation as they pull away from the house.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Swampy Mud

I have decided that the implant smells better when it is not caked with swampy mud. I found this out today when Chance came in from playing in a field near our house. He was quite wet and upset. He had been playing with some of the neighborhood boys and the boys had been throwing big rocks into the ditch in the field which had water in it. Chance was very concerned about his implant and wanted me to call the parents of the boys right away. At first, I wasn't concerned because his head was not nearly as wet as the rest of his body. Upon further imspection, I found the implant had mud caked in several places. I ended up taking a paper towel and tried to get the muck off, but the "wheel" of the implant that attaches to the magnet in Chance's head has little grooves that proved difficult to fully clean. I got the mud out, and the swampy smell is going away now. Most little boys do not have to worry about $85,000 dollar devices attached to their friends head. This proved to be tricky with hearing aids too at first. Little kids don't think about shooting a water gun at someone's head during a water gun fight or splashing water all over another child. It is funny and you get a nice reaction. So.... I am thinking that we might pull the neighborhood kids in for a little inservice on the implant and how it can not get wet. The kids in the neighborhood eventually learned not to shoot water at Chance's head when he had hearing aids. We'll just remind them of that rule with the implant:) Maybe we can serve munchies and make it a social occasion.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Our first therapy session with the implant

Yesterday, we had our first speech therapy session since the implant. Lori is a teacher at the School for the Deaf and has an implant herself. She has some great insight to having an implant. She said people with implants don't need things said louder if they don't seem to understand what you have said. Instead, they need it said a little clearer and maybe a bit slower. Lori is a great example of what a deaf person can do. Her speech is great and she can do anything anyone else can do. She has a unique perspective on having an implant that I appreciate. She can let me in on little things like how the sound of plastic bags drives her crazy since she has gotten the implant. Chance does not seem to mind that sound though. During therapy, Lori pointed out to Chance that when you scratch your arm, it makes a noise. I would not have thought of that having taken that for granted all my life. Lori also let Chance realize other sounds that were around him like when Chance kept sliding his hands along the floor. She asked him if he could hear that and he said yes. I would not have thought of that. It is amazing the things we get to take for granted when we have always heard. Lori is really excited for Chance and knows what he is going through. I turned up Chance's implant to the next level and he doesnt' seem to mind. He just goes with the flow. My little son is on a journey of discovery right now, and I am along for the ride.

Friday, June 23, 2006

To honk, or not to honk.....

Today I honked the horn of the car to get Chance's and his sister's attention. It worked. Both kids came over and got into the van. Chance was scowling in the backseat though. "You scared me!" He said accusingly. I had to smile. After I apologized of course. The smile came from the fact that about a year ago, I saw Chance riding his bike down the street as I was coming home from the store. I pulled up behind him as he rode down the sidewalk. He did not even know that I was there. Chance then suddenly got off of his bike to run into a neighbors backyard. I honked thinking that would get his attention for sure. He had absolutly no response. He just kept running into the backyard. It was a sobering day for me. I thought, "My child can not hear the horns on cars. I hope some driver in a hurry doesn't honk at him thinking they have done their duty by warning him that they are coming." Now, apparently, honking horns get Chance's attention. And that is just what I like to hear!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

snakes, shoes and socks

LADIES AND GENTELMEN! WE HAVE AN "S" SOUND! Today is a great day at our house! Chance said the "s" sound, something he was not hearing with the hearing aids. His dad and I were so happy and exhibited such enthusiasm when Chance said the sound, that he started putting the s sound in front of words that didn't really start with s as he beamed at us. This delighted us too.... we'll take that s sound anyway that we can get it! One of our biggest concerns with the hearing aids was the apparent lack of the s and sh sounds. S is used so often in our language and Chance did not seem to realize that you could pluralize things by adding an s. He would say "I want more," or "I want two," instead of "I want two cookies" etc.
Chance also said the "sh" sound today when we were at the audiologist's getting his implant turned up. We are so excited. After years of hearing Chance say "nakes", when he and his brother caught one in the backyard, today we heard "snakes" with a strong s sound. Today is a very good day!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Scares and Encouragements

Chance came in from outside quite concerned today while I was on the phone. He said that his implant was gone. I asked him where it was. He said he did not know. He could not find it. Then he said he needed my help and pulled me outside with him. Out by the swing set, Chance demonstrated how he had been twisting in the swing and his implant had fallen off and he could not find it. It turns out that the implant was lying in a weed next to the swing set. It was rather hidden and it made me realize that this implant could be quite easily concealed in lots of different places. Hopefully we won't have to experience just how many places the implant can be hidden in or next to. During Chance's baseball game tonight though, the implant stayed on. Go figure.

Chance told us today that he loved his implant. That is a good sign. Chance's dad asked him tonight if he liked hearing aids or his implant better. Chance says the implant tickles his ear. Chance has not asked for his hearing aids at all. Eventually after he has had time to adjust to his implant and the way things sound with it, we will have him wear a hearing aid on the ear that was not implanted. We are told that kids adjust well to this even though the two methods of hearing are totally different.

A snippet from a conversation this week:
Earlier this week, Chance's Dad gave him a piggy-back ride to his bed. His Dad took this opportunity to test Chance a bit, seeing as how Chance couldn't read his Dad's lips. This is how the dialogue went:

Dad: Hi Chance
Chance: Hi Daddy
D: How are you?
C: I am fine. I am happy !
D: What time is it?
C: It is time for bed.
D: Where is your bedroom?
C: (Chance points)

This was extremely encouraging to hear - it shows that he is starting to hear conversational language and not just individual words.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

What did you say?

"What did you say?" or "What did he say?" These are two of Chance's favorite questions right now. And boy are we grateful!!! Chance is becoming more and more aware of the words around him. He is even picking out individual words we say and trying to create a context for what we are talking about. Chance gave his grandpa a picture of a dog that he colored him for Father's Day. His grandpa asked him "Is it a horse?" Chance paused for a moment, smiled and said no. "Is it an elephant?" Grandpa asked. Chance smiled and said no. He was able to differentiate between the names of the different animals. Chance was standing right next to his grandpa while they had this conversation which helped. Chance is really doing well and continues to progress every day.
Chance is, as stated earlier, a little more sensitive in general. Just more huggy. He frequently comes over to his mom or dad for hugs and kisses. We don't mind a bit though. Chance will sometimes get frustrated if we do not understand him. He would get frustrated with his hearing aids too, but with the implant being new, he seems to be extra insulted or hurt when we don't get what he is saying or if he feels we don't understand the situation (such as when he has an issue with a sibling).
Chance is very motivated though to learn and to hear. We are so grateful for that and admire his strong little spirit.
Last week in church we had an orientation of sorts about Chance's cochlear implant in primary (the children's class at church). It went really well and the kids asked some really good questions. I encouraged the kids to continue to talk to Chance even if he seemed not to hear or understand them. I told them that Chance was learning to hear and so what he might not understand one week, he may understand in a few weeks. I told the kids that they were welcome to ask me or Chance's brother any questions they may have. We are confident that eventually, Chance can explain his own implant to other kids. Chance came up to the front of the room and showed all of the kids his implant. There were many ooohhhs! and ahhhhs!, when I told the kids that Chance had a magnet in his head and then Chance showed the kids how the magent stuck to his head. We welcome questions about Chance's implant. We have found that kids respond really well when you just explain to them that Chance's ears don't work just right and so he needs an implant(or hearing aids), just as some people need glasses to see. Kids are just curious as we all are when we see something different that we don't know much about. So many of the kids are friendly to Chance and include him in their activities. Chance seems to be able to piece together (even before the implant) enough about things that are going on around him to get involved with some things. Sometimes he plays off by himself while the other kids play, but I think with time, he will be able to understand more and more of what the other kids are talking about and be in on the games etc. Chance certainly has the desire to hear and to go on with life as usual! We are appreciating this trait more and more as time goes on.

Friday, June 16, 2006

It had to happen sooner or later...

We lost the implant! We had to be somewhere this morning, and as we all raced to the car, I reached up to get the implant on my way out. It wasn't there. I asked Chance where it was and he didn't know. The little implant home was there (the box that is like a case for eye glasses), but the implant was not.
As I contemplated where the implant had been last, I realized that Chance's dad had been the last person seen with it. I made a quick phone call and found that Chance's dad was as surprised as I was that the implant was not in its usuual place. Hmmmmm. So it wasn't Chance that lost the implant for the first time, it was his dad.
The body unit did not have a magnet in it, and we had to run, so we went with out it. The hearing aids would come up missing every once in a while, so I was not overly concerned at first. For the rest of the day, I methodically checked all pockets before any pants went into the wash. I had a sick-to-your-gut feeling when I realized that a shirt with a pocket on the front had gone through the wash unchecked. With Chance's dad on the phone, I took the load of wash with said shirt in it, and put it in the dryer, all of the time scoping out the bottom of the washer. Thankfully, there was no dead little implant at the bottom of the wash basin. Late in the afternoon, Chance's dad had an "a-ha" moment, and called to say that he was wearing shorts last night which were still in the closet. There in the pocket of the shorts was the implant. Chance was surprised to learn where it had been. I was the hero though when Chance told his dad that "mommy had found it!"
(Chance's dad feels he needs to defend himself here with a note that the implant was in the pocket because he was bringing it in from the van, where Chance's Mom had left if, at 12:30 a.m. and was really tired. So, the moral of the story is, one should not mess with expensive high tech devices when one is really tired.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sometimes, we all just need a little love....

Chance continues to progress with his implant. Today while at the doctor's office, we asked Chance if his brother was sick and Chance responded back to us that his brother was indeed sick. Chance was not looking at our mouths when we asked him either. Things are coming along!
Chance came home for a band-aid after playing outside today and as I handed him a band-aid, I noticed that his implant was gone. "Where is your implant?" I asked envisioning the implant all alone and vulnerable on the sidewalk about to be smooshed and rained on. "Over there." Chance said motioning vaguely outside while reaching for the band-aid. "You need to get your implant." I told Chance. "In a minute!" He told me impatiently. As soon as the distraction of the band-aid was over, I informed Chance that he needed to get his implant right now. I then called the neighbors house where Chance had been playing and asked if the implant was over there. She said yes that Chance had taken it off to jump in their blow up jumping toy. WHEW! We have great neighbors who are aware of Chance's implant and are great to work with us. Our neighbor said that she would give Chance a spot to put the implant when he is jumping on in the blow-up toy of which I was very grateful!
Chance does seem to need more reassurance lately. He comes up for hugs several times a day or just wraps his arms around me to hug for a few minutes. He does not say anything, he just seems to need some love. I am sure that having this implant is weird and trying at times. Chance is a little trooper, but he is working hard every minute to learn to hear....again. So we'll just give him extra hugs and let him know that we are here for him.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Weeding out the sounds.....

Today Chance got out the alphabet flashcards. As I flashed the cards, he would tell a word that started with the letter. He did a great job. The t, p, b, e and v sounds all seemed to sound alike to him. He would put his finger to his head like he was thinking. Only a few times did he need me to clarify and give him a word that started with that letter though. The t,p,b, and v sounds do all sound an awfully lot alike when you thing about it.
I thnk Chance is starting to recognize some individual words. In the last few days, I would be talking to the kids or say something, and Chance would hit on one of the words I said and ask what I had said. For instance, I said something about the neighborhood kids, and Chance asked me if the kids were coming over. And yesterday, while we were driving in the van, Chance's dad asked his brother about primary. Chance then asked me if daddy was going to primary. So he seems to be hitting on words in sentences and then asking questions about them.
Chance did get frustrated today at one point when he did not feel like he was being understood. He slapped the front of his head and then held his head in his hand. He needs us to slow down when we talk or repeat what we've said so he can catch it sometimes I've noticed. Some of it is lip reading, but Chance is also responding when he is not looking directly at your mouth sometimes too.
Chance is also requesting that he be on the left side of me when we read stories, which puts his implanted side closest to me.
All in all, we are very encouraged and Chance seems to have bonded with the implant as he wears it all day with out complaint, and seems to favor that side when listening.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Story time.....

Today I sat with Chance and his sister to read some stories. I was not sure how much of the stories Chance would really get. We were sitting on Chance's bed and I had one child on either side of me. At first Chance wanted to be on my right side because his spider man pillow was on that side. After the first story however, Chance said that he wanted to sit on the other side....the side where his implant would be facing me. I was encouraged by this. Chance seemed to realize that his implant side will help him hear better. Chance looked at me a lot during the story, but he did seem to look at me less when he switched sides. I read 6 stories and Chance was content to sit and listen through them all. This is a great sign! Chance is liking the body battery pack. It seems to stay on his ear easier.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A name is a name is a name....

Yesterday Chance had his second visit with the audiologist. Chance had gotten to program 4. He did complain a bit when we changed the programs from 1 to 2 saying that it was too loud, but the next day we put the implant on at program 2 and he didn't say anything. Today the audiologist set the programs again with the old number 4 program now being program 1, and going up from there. We'll give him a few days with each program and then move up to the next one. The idea is to get the auditory nerve and brain used to this new hearing and be able to decipher what it is.

Exciting news today!! Chance's dad covered his mouth and asked Chance where each member of the family was. Chance would point to each person as their name was said. He did mix up daddy and one of the names twice. But both end in the "ee" sound so that may have thrown him off a little. This is great! This means that he is beginning to sort through language sounds as well as environmental sounds.

Chance has requested that he wear the body worn battery pack tomorrow. Some of his friends at school wear the body unit so I think Chance wants to give it a whirl. Plus, I think Chance just realized that he had the body unit battery pack as he was going through the box of stuff they gave us when we got the implant turned on. We are also thinking that the body unit will be good for Chance to wear while he is playing baseball. The over the ear piece is smaller when you use the body battery back. The battery pack is smaller than a deck of cards, similar to an mp3 player, and just attaches to your belt or whatever else you can hook it to. Then a coil runs from the pack to the implant behind the ear. What Chance has been wearing is just an over the ear piece including the battery pack making it heavier and larger.

We are really grateful that Chance is adapting well and is not refusing to wear the implant. He has not asked to wear his hearing aid once. Today he said " I love my implant!"

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Noticing the little things.....

I more saw the wind than heard it blowing. Once Chance told me on the baseball field that he heard the wind, I looked at the trees and realized that the wind was indeed blowing. Funny how little things like the wind blowing are things that we tend to take for granted.
Chance had his first baseball game of the season on Monday night. The implant is a bit of a challenge to keep steady on an active little boy. The magnet part is pretty secure, but the over the ear part is more temperamental. At a family function on Sunday, Chance's implant came off and landed on the floor causing the battery pack to come unattched. I didn't see Chance approach the table, but the room was not condusive to gaining much speed, what with the table and all of the people. Due to this fact, when Chance went up to bat at his baseball game, I helped him put the batting helmet over his baseball cap to help hold the implant in place while he ran. That seemed to do the trick as the implant did not pop off when Chance ran the bases. We do have a second processor for the implant (that is the part that goes over the ear), that is in a pouch that clips to a belt or something. That makes the ear piece littler. That may be our best bet for sports. That shrinks it to the size of a hearing aid.
Chance is doing really well. He does want you to look him when you talk to him. And he is more huggy. We don't see that as a down side though.
We had the music CD from "Fiddler on the Roof" playing today and when we got home from the store, Chance went over to turn the CD player on. The volume kept getting louder and louder so I was just about to tell him to turn it down, when I realized that Chance was really focused on listening to it. I watched to see when he would stop turning the sound up, and he about maxed it. But then, he gradually turned the volume down to a comfortable level and seemed satisfied. He looked at me and nodded. I asked him if he could hear it and he said yes. Music always has been one of Chance's favorite things. So, he is paying attention to the sounds around him and experimenting with things.
He has been on program 4 for a couple of days, and tomorrow, we get 3 new programs for him to progress through. He seems to be responding to his name (at least according to his Dad), or this may just be a hopeful, optomistic parent. In any case, he gives us plenty of things to be encouraged about.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Does everyone have a magnet in their head?

I was walking out of my room this morning, when Chance came up to me and tried to put the magnet part of the implant on my head. When the implant wouldn't attach to my head, Chance looked genuinely surprised. Then he shrugged his shoulders and walked off. Today he has tried to attach the magnet to all of our heads and has been quite shocked when it doesn't attach. Chance told me that his baby brother would get his head cut open and a magnet put in when he is older. Honestly, I have wondered about what else would attach to the magnet in Chance's head. What about the magnets on the fridge, would they attach? I thought it better not to play out my thoughts. Chance's older brother had no such restraint though. He and Chance walked into the living room to show me a magnet that was attracted to Chance's head. The magnet did not hold on to Chance's head, but the pull was there. The boys thought that was great. I have a feeling that other experiments will follow. As it is, Chance will ask me to put the part of the implant on that hooks over the ear, but he insists that he attach the magnet.
Chance wore the implant all day today. He does seem nervous though that it will fall off. He sometimes tilts his head at an angle and is more timid when he runs. At one point, he ran in from outside and the part of the implant that hooks over the ear (the processor) was upside down. When I tried to fix it, Chance told me no he had fixed it. Apparently the upside down method did not do what he wanted because later Chance put the implant back right side up. The implant is bigger and heavier than the hearing aids so Chance may just be adjusting to that. We don't want Chance to feel timid when he runs. He has always been so free. So if it turns out that the implant continues to make him nervous, we will contact the maker of the implant to see if there is something we can get to make it feel like it is more secure. We have heard such an item exists.
Chance seemed a little more sensitive today, but he went on with his day as usual, playing outside with friends and siblings. I can imagine that it would be weird to have such a change to your sense of hearing. It would affect how you felt about the world around you. You would probably feel more vulnerable and less in control. At one point tonight, a motorcycle was revving somewhere in the neighborhood. Chance stoppped on the stairs and kind of cocked his head and then went on. We have been tapping Chance a lot to get his attention and we have to manually touch him to let him know that we are talking to him. Chance seems to be taking it all in stride though.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

THE IMPLANT IS ON!

Chance came into our bedroom this morning, climbed into our bed and said to me "Today I get a implant!" And so he did. Everything went really well and Chance responded to the first tests better than expected. The audiologist turned the implant on, covered her mouth with a file folder and said some sounds. Chance was supposed to place wooden shapes onto a stick each time he heard a sound. Chance responded really well and heard more sounds than the audiologist expected. The sounds were ba, mmm, eee, ahh, uuuu, shh, and sss. Chance heard all but the shh and sss sounds. The shhh and ssss are sounds that Chance didn't hear before the implant and so they may be totally new to him. Plus, it usually takes time for the kids to get them all. We are supposed to use these sound tests each morning when we put the implant on to ensure that the implant is turned on and the batteries are working. In the van on the way home, Chance started saying some of the sounds back to us. This does not sound like much, but Chance is literally learning to hear again and these are the beginning steps. Chance has always been very expressive so his face was fun to watch as he heard the beeps through the implant. He would raise his eyebrows, open his mouth and look amazed. That is how we knew that he was indeed hearing something. The sound that really got Chance's attention though was an untested one. Chance had to use the restroom and when he flushed the toilet, he said, "That is loud!" and he covered his ears with a grin on his face. So the best impression was made by a commode.
The progress Chance makes will be a process of Chance learning to hear, and the implant being programmed to slowly adapt him to it. Right now, Chance is using program 1. On Saturday we will move up to program 2, Monday program 3 and Wednesday program 4. Then we will go back next week so the audiologist can put in more programs for Chance to move through. It is all very exciting. I caught Chance pulling the implant away from his head, then slowly moving it closer and closer until the magnetic pull pulled it to his scalp. He seemed to think that was pretty cool. How many of us can do that?