Saturday, May 24, 2008

Batteries, batteries, batteries

Chance, his dad and his brother all headed to a football game tonight. Our family won two tickets at the the A.G. Bell Speech Fair. Both Chance and his brother wanted to go so we just bought an extra tickets and they were off.

My husband and I actually switched the kids in Salt Lake City. I was in Salt Lake for a conference all day, so Chance and the rest of the family just met me there. I drove the boys to the arena, dropped them off at the corner, and then headed up the block.

It was not until I was halfway through my right hand turn and coming around the side of the police cruiser parked on the side of the road that I realized that there was a sign indicating no right hand turn. The situation did not look to be going in my favor. As I headed up the block, I kept looking back expecting to see flashing lights at any moment.

Then suddenly, someone was knocking - no, banging - on the passenger side of the van when I stopped at the intersection. At this point, I figured if I was going to be car jacked, maybe I did want the policeman to be heading my way.

Alas, it was not a criminal wanting my car, but my oldest son panting and asking for implant batteries (just in case...). He must have sprinted the entire block to reach me before the light went green and I started to move.

I had to wonder as I pulled away if Chance needed his implants for an indoor football game. The decibel level must be staggering inside the arena. (Dad's note: Yes, it was!)

Chance actually told us a few weeks ago that if we stand right next to him and yell, he can hear us when his implants are off. I don't know if he can make out any of the words if we yell next to him or if he can just hear the sound of our voices. This came about after Chance's younger brother let out a howl in the tub and Chance said," I heard that! I can hear you if you yell next to me."

So when all is said and done, maybe Chance's cochlea will be in better condition than the rest of us who can hear. After all, after his MRI the doctor told me that his cochlea looked perfect.
If things get really loud in the arena, Chance can just turn his implants off. The hearing people in the room will just lose hearing. (Dad's note: Chance's brother and I both wore earplugs, but Chance said it wasn't too loud for him - I wonder if the program he was on accounted for extra loud sounds?)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Chance is obviously hearing some slang that is said around him. One of the words he is using more often now is dude.
"Dude! Look at this cup!"
"Dude! Look at this huge piece of gum!"

Now, maybe we just aren't that cool, but my husband and I do not walk around the house using the word dude all that often. I don't know that I have ever felt an occasion to use that word as I don't think my friends would think it was as cool as Chance's friends do if I called them dude.

And due to our uncoolness factor, my husband and I do not say things like,
"Dudes! Come to the table for dinner!"
"Dude! You can ride your bike so fast!"

Chance is picking up how to use dude from other people though. Which means he is hearing and understanding what slang is. I have yet to see dude on one of his spelling tests at school. Yet, Chance gets what it means and he knows how to use that word when he talks. And he and his friends like to call each other dude. Apparently, you can be cool and deaf at the same time.

Chance the eavsdropper

I have a friend, who lives across the country and I was trying to reach her all day today. She is more like a sister to me and we have known each other since we were young, so my kids call her Auntie Chris. However, each time I tried to get a hold of her today, I got one of her kids who said that they did not know when she would be home.

I was finally able to reach her late this afternoon. Chance and his siblings rotate jobs at our house and Chance's job was the dining room today so he was busy at work while I was on the phone.

When I got on the phone with my friend I was harassing her a bit about her being gone all day.
I said, something like, "Yeah, I kept trying to call you today but your kids said you had been gone for days now and they had no idea when you would be home." She laughed and we went on with our conversation. A few seconds later, Chance with a rather shocked look on his face said, "Auntie Chris has been gone for days and her kids don't know where she is?"

I had to stifle a laugh as I turned to see Chance kneeling on the floor picking something up, an intent look on his face as he pondered what he had heard.

I explained that I was only teasing Auntie Chris because I had been unable to reach her all day. Then I reminded him that Auntie Chris has a teenager who can watch her sister who is Chance's age when she is away. Chance's expression relaxed and his face broke into a little grin. He got the joke. He also over heard me on the phone without even thinking about it and while he was involved with his daily chore. How cool is that?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Chance and the Cub Scouts

Ahhhh, Chance has reached that age where he gets to join several boys his own age in the Cub Scout program. Chance has been looking forward to becoming a Cub Scout since his brother is a Cub Scout and his dad is the Cubmaster.

He went to his first den meeting this past week. I wondered how he would feel since his good friends in the neighborhood are either in the next den up or haven't yet joined Cub Scouts.

Chance came home very excited about cooking a meal next time. Tinfoil dinners to be exact. Chance doesn't know what tinfoil dinners are, so we'll need to show him tinfoil and explain the process of preparing a tinfoil dinner a bit before he goes to the next meeting.

I was impressed though that Chance seemed to have gotten all of the details for next week. I imagine this was no small feat seeing as how there are about 12 boys that come each week and I know of no group of Cub Scouts that has ever been accused of being quiet and subdued. 12 little bodies bopping all over the place, full of energy and fun. This is normally not an ideal situation to hear details of an upcoming event. Yet, Chance came home and told me that they were going to make dinner and eat at scouts next week and that scouts would be held at 6:00 instead of 7:00 since they would be eating.

I am impressed that he heard the info through the clamor. Way to go Chance!

Friday, May 16, 2008

The tornado

Our basement is mostly unfinished but we have plans to make a bedroom for Chance and his brother down there someday. Chance and I were discussing where his bedroom in the basement would be when Chance said,

"Yes. And then the tornado will not be able to pick us up because we'll be in the basement."

Well, I guess that is partly true. Since we don't usually have tornadoes in our neck of the woods, the threat is not really strong, but the fact that Chance is concerned shows that he is picking up on things around him.

He has been learning about weather at school and lately he has been quite interested in books about thunder, lightning, hurricanes and tornadoes. It is good to know that he gets the gist of a tornado though we may want to work on helping Chance see that he is most likely not in danger here in Utah of being swept up by one. Now, an earthquake, that is a different story. But I don't think we'll talk too much about the geological short comings of our area until we have made him feel secure about the threat of tornadoes :)

Cadets in Training

Chance just turned 8. How this happened, I still don't know. But here he is, 8 and flourishing.

He had a birthday party and invited 16 kids. A few couldn't make it, so with Chance and his siblings, we had 18 kids here.

We had cadet training as all the kids were isued "tickets" and summoned to appear by policeman Chance. We had target practice with water guns, ran a course to test physical prowess, ate cadet approved hotdogs - and donuts, of course (Chance chose them, not even realizing the connection between donuts and policemen) - and broke open a pinata shaped like the number 8. Chance, his siblings and neighborhood friends created a spetacular crash out in front of the driveway. They were looking for chalk to ouline the bodies of the victims when the cadets started arriving.

As in past years, there was a mixture of deaf kids and hearing kids. Chance loved his party and just beamed as all of his friends were around him.

I loved the party and enjoyed watching the kids. One of my favorite parts though, came when the party had actually ended and Chance was out playing with one of his friends with a cochlear implant. Chance and about 4 friends were playing basketball across the street. His friend with an implant walked back to our yard to pick up one of Chance's birthday presents. Chance yelled out to him, "Don't get that out right now!" And his friend yelled back, "I'm not, I'm just moving it off the sidewalk."

I thought how amazing it was that two deaf kids were having a conversation across the street from each other. Neither one had to think about it. It just happened spontaneously like it would for any child who is not deaf. I thought how wonderful the situation really was and found myself grateful all over again for implants and what they make possible.

Chance is ready for baseball

I signed Chance up for baseball this summer again. The P.E. teacher at school has made sure to let us know on more than one occasion that Chance has a great arm. We would sign Chance up to play baseball even if the P.E. teacher had not let us know she thought he has a great arm, but it will be interesting to watch him play this year and see his talent. Chane will be in machine pitch this year which means a machine will be rhrowing the balls to the hitters. His dad took him out to throw some balls and told me he was quite impressed.

Chance's new coach called this afternoon to tell us when the first practice will be. Unfortunately, it is on the same day as Chance's first pinewood derby in Cub Scouts and I'm quite certain that Chance will not miss racing his car.

I had a moment where I wondered if I should mention to the coach that Chance is deaf. But I thought, "No, I will not prejudice him before he meets Chance."

I will let Chance speak for himself. He will show the coach that he is like anyone else and that his deafness does not define him or his abilities. This is what we have done traditionally for past few years now. We don't tell anyone that Chance is deaf when signing him up for city programs. We let the coach know on the first day of practice or the first game. Then Chance just goes out there and proves that he is just like any other kid on the team. There is no hand wringing about having a deaf child on the team or prejudice that develops before Chance even plays.

Chance's deafness has never proven to be a problem in sports. He just gets into the game and plays. He has to pay a little more attention and not daydream out on the field when he plays baseball as he does not hear everything due to the space between the bases, the wind and the cheering etc. But Chance does a good job and likes to play.

When Chance was first diagnosed as being deaf, he played t-ball and his dad or I would stand out near first or third base and help him know when to run. The kids all ran with the baseball helmet on and Chance could not hear through it with his hearing aids. Plus, he was just learning the game. One of us will still frequently be a base coach helping the kids know when to run, but Chance usually already knows.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Chance responds to my whispers to someone else..

Today at church, during the quietest point of the sacrament, Chance's youngest brother decided to narrate for me that he saw the bread and water coming. He kept repeating," The water is coming, the water is coming!" In an effort to quiet him, I pulled him onto my lap and started to point at things we could see out of the window.
"Do you see the tree?" I whispered near his head.
"Um.......he said as he searched for the tree.
"Do you see the flowers?" I whispered pointing.
Then I realized that someone else was answering my queries.
Chance was sitting next to me and as I was asking his brother if he saw various things outside, Chance was answering "Yes," once he had spotted them.
Well, now I know that I can ask Chance what he can see outside during the sacremant too, should the need arise because apparently, he can hear my whispers too.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Chance passes the test again..

We had another audiological appointment. We haven't changed the mapping since last August and Chance did so well in the booth, that the audiologist didn't see a need to change anything this time either. We'll have another appointment in August and the mapping and T-levels will be checked then.

Chance is doing really really well with his two implants. He is now scoring higher with both than he does with just one implant alone. Which makes non deaf people hear better when both ears are functioning like they should. I go crazy when one of my ears is clogged. It makes me realize just how much I appreciate both of my ears working at the same time.

For all of these tests, Chance is put in a booth and three different measurements of his hearing are taken.
The first is the standard beep test. His audiogram looks better than it did last time. We like to hear this kind of news:) Chance was hearing at 20-25 decibels across the whole graph in all of the sound ranges. For this test, Chance is given a bucket of cars and a slide for the cars to drive off of. When he hears a beep, he lets a car go down the slide and it lands in another bucket.

Chance sits, car poised waiting for his opportunity to send the car off. I sat in the booth with Chance and I'll be honest. Some of those beeps were really quiet! It had to be really quiet for me to hear them. And there Chance was shooting cars off the slide even for those really quiet beeps.

The next test is the sentence test. Chance is tested with only one implant on, then the implants are switched, so the other side gets tested, and then he is tested with both implants on. A recorded voice says things like:
"The orange is very sweet."
"Children like strawberries."
"The train is moving fast."
"Mother shut the window."

They are just arbitrary sentences that Chance listens to and then repeats back what he thought he heard.
Of the sentences Chance did not get right, I could see that some of them were vocabulary issues more than hearing issues. For instance, one of the sentences was," Mother took her eldest son." Chance missed eldest, but he does not know what that word means. We don't ever use it, and I don't know that he would hear that word anywhere.

Another sentence he missed was," There was a bad train wreck." Chance said,"There was a train red." Chance does not know what wreck means. So he is thinking and compensating when something doesn't sound familiar. Chance scored better on this test when both implants were in, getting 85% correct.

The next test is hardest because it is arbitrary words that have no context to them. You either get it or you don't. There are no surrounding words to help you figure out context.

Again, some of the misses on this test can be attributed to vocabulary rather than hearing. Chance compensated for some of the words he did not know.

One of the words was rouge. We never use that word and a 7 year old would not use that word or even come across it. Chance compensated and said that he heard rouce.

Another word was dab. Chance does not know that word either so he said dad.

Then there was mate. Chance is only 7 so we haven't used that word a lot with him:) Chance said nate instead.

Chance scored 76% on the word tests. Considering that Chance is going cold on these sentences and words and does not have the vocabulary or experience of an adult to aid him in these cold tests, he is quite impressive.

Chance's percentages on these tests is better with both implants than with either one alone. The audiologist says Chance is depending on the two implants together more. Which is what the rest of us do. We rely on both ears together. Any adult I have talked to who has hearing in only one ear, says that there is a big difference between hearing with one hear or hearing with two. Most of the adults we know who have hearing in only one ear, originally had hearing in both ears but lost one due to a virus or age.

We are most pleased with Chance's progress with the implants. He is hearing well in the booth, catching what is said at school, and hearing us from quite a ways a way. The progress he is making just marches on.