Saturday, June 30, 2007

Death, taxes and bellybutts....

I have realized the last few days that Chance has been thinking that everyone has a bellybutt.
I am sure that this misconception started when he had his hearing aids and he probably didn't even hear the"on" sound at the end of bellybutton. And since he never had any reason to question that what he had heard was wrong, Chance has apparently been stuck with the notion that everyone has a bellybutt.

I realized when we were at the store looking for clothes that Chance might have a snag in his perception of how you say bellybutton. Chance's little sister was trying on shirts and Chance said' "I see your bellybutt!" He then laughed and laughed because as we all know, bellybuttons are one of the bodies most interesting parts.

"You see her bellybutton?" I asked Chance.

"Yes, I see her bellybutt."

I explained to Chance that it was bellybuttON.

Chance repeated bellybutton back to me and then I heard him say it a few times to himself.

Apparently, we don' talk about bellybuttons enough at our house so we'll have to work that word into our conversations so Chance gets used to it.

Tonight, he told his brother that he could see his bellybutt. We told Chance it was a bellybutton and he quickly said it the right way.

Like I said, we're going to have to work the word bellybutton into our conversations so that Chance gets used to hearing it said right. This could actually be fun. Bellybutton is a fun word. If you need to step up the frequency of using the name of a body part, bellybutton is probably the most amusing.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The perks of being deaf...

Chance definitely has an advantage that the rest of us don't have...he can turn his hearing off.

Chance and his brother were arguing about who's idea it was to play hotel. They each kept saying "It was my idea!" and the other one would counter louder," No! It was my idea!"

Chance put an end to the arguing when he walked down the hall and took off his implants. "I know that you took your implants off and now you can't hear me!! " his brother yelled. "Well, I can't hear you either!" And then he covered his ears.

I am thinking that Chance won this argument. As soon as those implants came off, he could not hear a thing his brother said. So, score one for Chance.

We see each day as we head off to swim class the profound miracle that the implants provide for Chance. Chance takes his implants off as we walk out the door to swim class since we just drive to the swimming pool, swim for half and hour and then come home. We could take the implants in the car, but then I would have to worry about getting them off before Chance headed off to the water.

It is amazing to be reminded of just what a miracle the implants are. When Chance runs up to me and hugs me after swim class, he can not hear a word I might say. And calling out to Chance to come, or to look, or to pick up his towel is impossible. The funny thing is, I find myself calling out anyway. Then it hits me,"Oh yeah! Chance can not hear a word I say!"

Even signing to Chance is not a perfect answer at the pool because has to be looking at me to catch what I am saying. And Chance is not looking for me, when he swims, to see if I am talking to him. And if Chance heads off towards the concession stand, he doesn't know that I am trying to get his attention unless he happens to look over to where I am.

I wonder what swimming is like for Chance actually. The rest of us hear kids laughing, moms scolding, the diving board smacking, people splashing as they jump into the water or splash water at each other...... Chance hears none of these things. It must be interesting to see all of these things going on around you, but have no sound to accompany the action. We don't know exactly what Chance can hear with out his implants. He has some (very) limited residual hearing but we have been told that it helps him to hear things like the garbage truck or a lawn mower.

Today Chance had to go to the bathroom at the end of class. I was in the shallow end with the mom-and-tot class which happens to be closest to the bathrooms. There were only 3 minutes of class left, so by the time Chance got back to his class, it would be over. As Chance was sitting in the water with me, the lifeguards blew the whistle signaling that swimming lessons were over and it was time to get out of the pool. I pointed to my ear and said to Chance,"Did you hear that? It is time to go."

Chance started getting out of the water with me.

"What do we hear when it is over?" Chance asked his noise scrunched and his hand over his eyes to block the sun.

"The lifeguards blow a whistle." I said pointing to the lifeguards and pretending to blow a whistle.

"Oh." Chance responded.

So, Chance does not actually hear the whistle, but he watches the cues around him to know when lessons are over.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Chance heard me through the door, a fan, and a distance..

As a mom, whenever you get on the phone or in the shower, suddenly one of your kids needs to ask you something right now.

Thus it was that I found myself just getting out of the shower yesterday when Chance knocked on the door. He wanted to know if he could see if Josh could play. I told Chance we needed to have lunch first.

Then Chance asked me if he could make lunch. I told him to wait a minute until I got out.

Chance cheerfully said ok and then I heard him bound off.

The fan was on in the bathroom, I was behind a cabinet and the bathroom door was closed. I realized that Chance may not have heard a thing I had said.

For all I knew, when I got out of the shower, Josh would be over at the house playing and the two boys would be attempting to make lunch by themselves.

When I got out though, Chance cheerfully ran up to me and said,"Can I eat now and play with Josh when I am done?"

He had heard me through the door, a cabinet and with the fan on! Granted, Chance probably had his ear right up to the door, but he still managed to hear through the noise of the fan, around a cabinet and through the closed door!

This is excellent!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The second implant makes a BIG difference..

We see a big difference when Chance has only one implant on. Chance is adamant about wearing both implants but every once in a while we get a taste of having just one implant. One day before school, one of the implants would not turn on. The bus was waiting for Chance to come out and I was desperate so I told Chance just to go to school with out one of the implants. Chance refused. It turns out the battery pack was not pushed all of the way in.

Occasionally, when one of the implants runs out of battery life, Chance if involved with something, will wait until he is done to change the batteries. At these moments we really see the value of having two implants.

The other night at Chance's baseball game, I was calling to him as he stood at the fence. He did not respond, so I stepped closer to him and called out. Still, Chance did not respond. I walked up to where Chance was and called. I could not figure out why Chance was not responding like usual. There was noise what with a baseball game going on and the kids next to Chance talking, but usually Chance would respond at his baseball games. Finally, he turned. It turns out the implant closest to me, was out of battery and Chance was involved with his baseball game and had not come to change the batteries.

In fact, if Chance does not seem to be responding as well as usual, and the environment is not noisy, 99% of the time it is because one of the implants is not turned on. The difference in what Chance is able to hear is very apparent.

With both implants on, Chance can over hear my phone conversations and respond. He can over hear people having a conversation and ask questions about what is being said. Chance can also hear from a further distance and hear more clearly.

We really debated and agonized over whether we should get a second implant, but we have no regrets. On the contrary, we are thrilled with the results!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The cash cow.

Chance attended a rodeo the other night. He loves to see the cowboys at work. As Chance told me,"I love cowboys."This year, Chance and his brother signed up to chase the cash cow. This entailed trying to get money that was attached to a cow. Twelve kids had the opportunity to get any of the $100.00 attached to the cow. The cow was fast. But so is Chance. Chance got close to the cow several times but he would stop just short of touching the cow. The cow would stop too, but then he was off again before Chance got any cash.

Chance's brother got $12.00 and gave $5.00 to Chance since Chance didn't get any money of his own. Chance actually told me that he did get some money, but one of the other kids took it away from him. Chance and his brother were celebrities among their neighborhood friends, many of whom were at the rodeo with their families.

Chance was without implants out in the arena. There was no need really to have Chance's implants fall off to get trampled by a cow or 11 other kids in the excitement of the moment.

So Chance could really focus on the task at hand without the distraction of the roar of the crowd. And now he has $5.00.

Chance loved participating in the race with the cow. He tells the story with much gusto using lots and lots of vocabulary words:)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Things that go BUMP in the night...

Chance came into my room last night after I had put him down to bed and told me that he wanted me to come out. I told him to go lay down and I would be out in a minute. Chance then hung his head and tried not to cry. I wrapped my arms around him and asked him what was wrong. Chance then started to shake with sobs which is unusual for him.

"What is wrong Chance?" I asked.
"I heard a noise." Chance choked out.
"You heard a noise?"
Chance nodded.
"I heard a noise and it scared me." Chance said as he took my hand so that I would walk out with him.

Normally, this would be reason for a mother to feel protective and nurturing. I was trying not to smile and found this to be great news. MY DEAF CHILD HEARD A BUMP IN THE NIGHT AND NOW HE IS AFRAID. Who ever thought that would be possible?

I am not completely heartless. I hid my smile that had crept onto my face when I realized that Chance had heard something unknown to be wary of and held Chance's hand as I led him back to his bed. Then I sat with him until he drifted off to sleep. I also took his implants off which ensured that he would not be hearing any more bumps in the night:)

That is one advantage of having a deaf child. If strange noises are keeping them up, you just take off their implants and voila! No more noises to disturb their sleep.

I don't know what the noise was that Chance heard. He was sleeping next to his brother who did not hear anything. So, maybe it was one of those noises a house makes when things are settled down and you can now hear the buzz of the dryer, the clink of a dish in the dishwasher, or the wind blowing outside the window. All of those noises that the rest of us have learned to tune out, but Chance is just being tuned into.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Chance's Grandpa chimes in

Chance's Grandpa (dad's side), who lives about a 4 hour's drive away, recently send us the following to share:

A few weeks ago we (Grandpa and Grandma) visited Chance's parents on a trip that took us past their home. Chance's older brother was excited and wanted to show us his latest collection of crickets, bugs, spiders, and snakes in containers in the kitchen.

After the "show" I (Grandpa) was sitting in the living room, some thirty feet away, and watched in amazement at Chance's reaction to the crickets chirping in the kitchen. He was involved in a game with a sibling on the living room floor when he heard the crickets chirping. Looking the other way, no less, (like he could of read a crickets "lips" or "joints" anyway), when he heard the crickets chirp, he said very properly, "CRICKETS". I was amazed at how much progress he had made since our last visit, and particularly amazed at how clear and sharp he communicated with us during this visit! Way to go, Chance! And Parents!

Chance is getting the s's

I have noticed a big difference lately in Chance's articulation of the s sound. This is so exciting because for the longest time, I don't think that Chance ever heard the s sound in words. He could sometimes make it out if the s was in the middle of the word, but that was still hit and miss.

Enter the implants. Now Chance can hear that s sound and he is using it more and more. I am struck with gratitude each time Chance says ," It is?". Before the implants, Chance never used that phrase. What's more, even if you tried to point out the s sound in is, Chance would miss it and become frustrated because he could not figure out what we expected him to say.

I remember reading a story with Chance before he had implants. The story was about a mouse, and Chance kept calling it a mou. I would draw out the word for him and emphasize that there was an s sound at the end. Chance just kept saying mou. Finally he just looked at me and said "I said that!" But he clearly could not hear that s sound at the end.

The s sound is one of the first things we noticed when Chance got implants. Now Chance is refining the use of the sound. When first implanted, Chance would really make an effort to make the s sounds in words. We would point them out if he didn't get them and he would really work on saying them correctly. He had a great drive to hear and say things right. I am noticing that he is working on the z sound too. He tries to make sure that he pronunciates that sound in words.

We are loving the implants at our house. We think we'll keep them!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Clothes make noise, don't you know...

Chance came running up to me yesterday and said, " Mom! Listen to this!"

Chance then proceeded to rub his hands all over his stomach, chest, and even his hair. "It makes noise when I do this!" He exclaimed marveling at his discovery. I smiled and replied, "Yes it does make noise when you do that."

"Did you know that?" Chance wanted to know.

"Yes." I replied.

Chance grinned as he realized that I now knew too that his clothes make noises when you rub them.

Chance then zipped off to play rubbing his clothes and hair enjoying the noises that they made.

Chance has taught me to have gratitude for simple things.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

An interesting little thing about implants.

Cochlear implants have an interesting little quirk. That is, being electronic devices, they are affected by static electricity. Static electricity can erase the programming that is stored in the device. In rare cases, it can cause device failure(both external and internal).

Pass any children's park or playground these days and you find plastic slides, platforms and play areas. If you have ever ridden down one of those plastic slides, you know how much static that can cause.

Last night, we were at baseball games(our usual June night activities) watching the kids play ball. Chance's game was over, so I took him and some of his siblings over to the play area to play. As my baby got done going down the slide, he rubbed his head. I laughed thinking it was the wind. Then, he rubbed his head again the next time he went down the slide and I felt the hair on my arm go up each time I got close to the slide. You could feel the static electricity. This caused a bell to go off in my head as I remembered the strange relationship that plastic and implants can have with each other.

Chance was merrily swinging from monkey bars and dashing down slides. I called him over and told him that there was static electricity at the playground and that he needed to be careful because this could ruin his implant program. Chance looked at me kind of funny. I went on to tell him that you could not see static electricity, but that it was around us and we could feel it.(Poor kid. The concepts he has to deal with on a playground!) As we talked, a light went on for Chance. He told me that his dad had told him about that. He then showed me how he was supposed to touch one of the metal bars holding the slide after he went down the slide. This is not a park that we frequent, but Chance seemed to really internalize the fact that after he went down a plastic slide, he needed to touch something metal. This discharges the static built up in him through his finger, rather than through the implant.

Since the concept of static electricity is a little hard to grasp at Chance's age, I was glad that it was so high that day just so I could prove to Chance that it was indeed around us. I had him look at my arm with all of the hair all neatly in place. Then I slid my arm closer and closer to the slide and the hairs all stood at attention. Chance's eyes got big, and then he tried it with his own arm. It was a good visual aid:)

Research shows that the brand of implant that we chose, is less prone to serious complications(such as internal device failure), from static electricity, but it is still an issue to take seriously. Static electricity can still cause issues with implants. There is a coating that the slide can be coated with by the manufacturer, but the manufacturers do not want to make the extra effort. It is simply a convenience for most kids not to have static electricity when they go down a slide. There is also a coating that you can spray on slides yourself we have heard, but it only works for that one visit to the park. Although, it might be interesting to see the look on other parents faces were we to show up at a park and start spraying something all over the slide. We would probably have the police called on us. We have learned so many fascinating things about life through having a deaf child! Who knew there was this much to know about going down a playground slide?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Mine and Chance's little secret...

I just signed up Chance for swimming class just as I have done for the past 5 summers. We started out in the mom and tot class and now Chance can tackle the water on his own. He still has much to learn, but he loves to swim.

When we first found out that Chance was deaf, I would tell the people when signing up for lessons that Chance was deaf. This was always followed by some stammering on the part of the person doing the sign-ups, followed by a furrowed brow and expressions of concern. Who needs to know how to swim the most....a hearing child who can hear you call out to him by the water, or a deaf child who will take out their implants by the water and not be able to hear you yell out a warning?

So I don't tell them anymore at sign ups that Chance is deaf. Chance has been taking classes on his own for 4 years now and he knows how the system works. I tell the teacher on the first day of class. Usually the teacher is a teen-ager earning money for the summer. Not one of the teachers has had a problem with Chance being deaf yet. They just take it in stride. I explain that Chance wears devices to hear, but that he takes them off in the water. I tell the teacher that if they just demonstrate what he is supposed to do, Chance will follow. I explaing to them that Chance can read lips quite well, so if they tap Chance to get his attention, and make sure that he is looking at them, he is good at figuring out what is going on. If Chance does not get what the teacher is saying, demonstrating what Chance is supposed to do usually takes care of that problem. This system has worked each year for the past few years. Every teacher that has taught Chance, has approached me at the end of the session and told me how much they enjoyed working with Chance and what a great kid he is. I figure why cause undue stress in the lives of those doing the sign-ups when it all works out in the end:)

Chance's implants actually can get wet, that is one of the selling points of this particular brand. We were really drawn to that feature after burning many calories each summer making sure that Chance was not in the sprinklers with his hearing aids or monitering neighborhood water gun fights to ensure that Chance had his hearing aids out before he got squirted.
So the implants can get wet, but they are not supposed to be submerged. So Chance takes them out for swimming. And we think a psychological barrier is neccessary at this point due to Chance's age and the fact that he baths with siblings:) Chance is used to having to keep the hearing aids dry, and until he is older and understands the limits of the water proofing, we don't let the implants get wet. Besides, when bathing with a brother, one can never be sure that ones implant is not going to be submerged. This could of course be solved by having Chance bathe alone, but he and his brother love to play in the tub and shower together. So for now, we just keep that psychological barrier in place.

I have peace of mind knowing though, that if Chance spontaneously decides to run through the neighbors sprinklers or gets into a water gun fight, that his implants are going to be ok. Chance takes his implants off if he is going to play in or with water, which is good anyway. I can't expect neighbor kids to know at what level is too much water for the implants when they are swimming or playing on slip and slides. We just play it safe at our house. But someday, when Chance is older, we will sit down and have the big talk with him. The talk that unfolds the mystery of his water tolerating implants.