Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Perfect Storm

There is a device that we can check out from our church library to aid in hearing while listening to the talks during the church service. We used it for the first time last week in church.

Here's how it works: The device receives a radio signal from the microphone in the chapel, which it then sends to whatever "speaker" device is plugged into it - whether headphones (in which case this device is simply an amplifier) or in Chance's case, a NoizFree telecoil earhook, which in turn transmits the signal it receives to the implant via telecoil technologies. When Chance turns his implant into telecoil mode, it will only receive input from the telecoil device, and not from the implant's microphone (at least until we visit the audiologist and have a telecoil-microphone blend programmed in). The effect here is that Chance is listening directly to the signal from the microphone in the chapel, rather than to the standard paper shuffling and baby noises from those seated nearby.

It really seemed to help Chance to hear, he was totally focused and was really in to the meeting.
The thing is, once Chance is plugged into this device, he can not hear what is going on around him, he only hears what is coming through the microphone up front. This is great for Chance to be able to concentrate on what is being said, but it means that he can not hear us.

It just so happened that during the service last week Chance's little brother had to answer nature's call. Chance's dad went out to assist in this endeavor and I stayed on the pew up near the front of the chapel.

Soon the baby began to fuss and she did not want to be soothed there on the bench so I got up and went to the back of the chapel to kind of bounce her so she would be quiet. Babies always seem to know the difference between if you are sitting or standing to soothe them and they prefer standing.

From my spot in the back, I could see Chance and his siblings on the pew. I figured Chance's dad would be back from the loo soon and would sit with the kids while I kept the baby happy.

It occured to me while I stood in the back keeping an eye on my kids that while Chance was totally into the speaker, the other kids had no idea that he could not hear them.

I started praying that there would not be an incident where the kids tried to talk to Chance and caused an incident when he would not respond.

Then, both of Chance's brothers came back into the service.....without Chance's dad. As the kids approached our pew, I started praying harder that there would not be an incident. Chance, who was totally focused on the talk, was sitting at the end of the pew and the boys were going to have to slip past Chance in order to sit down.

This was the perfect storm brewing. The kids were alone on the pew, with everyone having to slide past Chance who could not hear anything only no one was aware that Chance could not hear them.

I was most concerned about Chance's little brother. His volume tends to go up quite a bit when he feels he is not being heard or when he does not get a response. I could just envision him asking Chance to slide over or something and then getting progressively louder when Chance would not respond.

Still Chance's dad did not return. I was near the door, so if there was an incident, I figured maybe I could just slip out and not have to witness it.

When Chance's brother got to the pew, he did start talking to Chance, and Chance did not respond. Luckily, his brother just kind of looked at Chance and moved on.

Then Chance's dad, who it turns out was fixing the soap dispenser in the restroom - so all those young kids could actually wash their hands with soap - came back in and I could breath easy again.

I realized that it would be a fabulous idea to explain to Chance's siblings that when Chance had the device on, he can not hear them so as to avoid any unnecessary expectations on their part.
My prayers were answered. There was no incident. Thank goodness.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What Chance looks forward to in 3rd grade

Chance came home from school today with a little book full of little drawings and information. Information about Chance and what he did this year in school, as well as what he is looking forward to doing next year.

It was really cute to see what he liked about this last school year: looking at rocks during the unit on rocks, computer class, going to the art museum and looking at art, writing pen pal letters etc.

The most boring thing he did was,"Sitting in my seat for a long time when my teacher was talking." Who hasn't felt that way as a 2nd grader?

Chance also wrote about what he was good at. Math was one of those things. He then listed what he wanted to learn about next year in 3rd grade. Chance wrote," 3rd grade work is really fun. I do 3rd grade work at home. I am really good at 3rd grade work and I also am good at time stables. Time stables are my favorite 3rd grade work."

Time stables? That is what he has thought they were called this whole time? I can see how that would be so. When I said the word out loud to myself, I thought, "Ya, it does sound like time stables!"

He must have wondered why the word stables was in the title, but when you like to do something, you can overlook such minute details such as the title of the activity.

I am glad to know that Chance likes to do time stables. He even said he would be working on them this summer. We'll have to have races and see who can come up with the answers the fastest, Chance, his brother, his dad or I.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chance learns what a reception is

Chance's school teacher is engaged to be married so today in Chance's backpack, he brought home an invitation to the reception.

After verifying that we would be available on the stated date on the invitation, Chance said in wonder," I can not believe that she invited us to the wedding!"

Chance's face was so full of excitement that I wanted to make sure to let him down gently.

"We get to go to the reception later that night." I said.

"Reception?" Chance said screwing up his face like he does when he is mystified.

"People usually get married and then have a reception later where people bring presents and refreshments are served."

"Refreshments?" Chance asked.

"Like cake and something to drink." I told him.

"Only family and best friends usually go to the wedding." I explained. Though the thought of a classfull of 2nd graders wiggling off to the side of the wedding ceremony would create some interesting moments I am sure.

Funny how many receptions Chance has been to and he did not know that is what they are called. He has several aunts, uncles and friends who have been married since Chance was born yet he didn't know what the event was called. He just knew we showed up for goodies and left a present.

Even though we WILL NOT be attending the actual marriage ceremony, Chance is now excited about the reception. We'll just have to keep reminding him of the word reception so he can remeber the proper name.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A call from school

Today I got a call from Chance's school. I know that because that is the name and number that came up on my caller I.D. As for the caller, well they were pretty much silent though I could feel the presence of someone on the line.

After my saying,"Hello? Hello?" , about 6 times, the call abruptly ended.

That is when I knew that the caller must be Chance, he just didn't hear me so he hung up.

Chance never calls me from school so I figured that I better call back. The number on my caller I.D. sent me to the front office where they did not know that Chance had called. At least he wasn't hurt. He would have called from the office if he was hurt.

When I explained that I had just received a call from the school, the secretary asked me whose class Chance was in and put me on hold.

A few minutes later she informed me that Chance was on his way to the office to talk to me.

When Chance got on the line, he told me that his left implant was not working. He had just put in new batteries but it still was not working. He was trying hard to be brave. but I could hear the tears he was trying to hold back. Chance hates to cry in front of people.
After agreeing that I would meet him at his class where they were having a pizza party, we hung up relief apparent in Chance's voice. It was apparent during our conversation that Chance did not hear perfectly on the school phone. I had to repeat several things.

I called Chance's dad at work since he had mentioned that one of the cords on the implant was going bad he thought. I wanted to see if it was the left one.

Chance's dad had the new coil with him in the car and it was lunchtime so he drove the coil up to the school.

It turns out the batteries that Chance used were bad. And he didn't have any more in his backpack. The little twerp had not refilled his supply or told us his backpack was bare. I check the back pack every once in a while to ensure that there is a supply of batteries but Chance will have to learn to remember to stock his back pack for school on a regular basis. We later realized that Chance had the batteries in the same pocket where there was crumbs and little pieces of paper that got into the battery pack and apparently disabled them.

There is an emergency supply of batteries in his classroom with the School for the Deaf teacher but when Chance's dad went to check, the classroom door was closed and he didn't want to disturb class.

Luckily, there is a preschool teacher out in the portable trailer who wears an implant so we borrowed some batteries from her. (She was also in class, but her aide, who was in the hall, said it was a good time to interrupt.) Thank you!!!!!

Whew! We now know that implant batteries and debris do not mix.

Chance was able to return to his bilateral hearing state and the pizza party resumed.

sports parents

I got to watch Chance play soccer last night. I have not been to one of his games in a while since our division of kids has had me with the baby.

Chance is really good! I always knew that he was a good little player, but he has been working on some moves!

Chance plays soccer at recess, and the league he is in has many kids from countries where soccer is a matter of national pride. This makes Chance stretch and learn a lot better.

At the game last night, there was a sports parent. You know, the ones that comment about the kids and act like each sports game will some how determine national policy.

This dad got upset at one of boys on Chance's team as he felt the kid had committed enough fouls to be out of the game. The fact that this kid was the best player on the team had nothing to do with this desire I am sure.

The ref, a lady in her 50's whipped that dad right back into shape by telling him that the player was a kid and the he could not talk to him like that. She is my hero. These are kids for heavens sake. Chance's dad says usually there are not incidents like that and everyone is letting the kids have fun. It is good to know though, that the ref will give them what for if parents become over bearing.

The dads from the other team did seem to have some good advice to offer their little players though. They would pull their kids aside and gesture a lot with their hands and point out onto the field.

Hmmmm. I wondered if I should be giving Chance some advice. I thought about calling him over waving my hands around a lot and saying, "Do what that dad said but in reverse since you are on the opposite team!" The fact that the other dads spoke Spanish when they gave direction squelched that idea as neither Chance nor I speak Spanish.

Chance did a great job though and after the game when I went over to thank the ref for standing up to the sports parent, she told me that Chance was a joy to watch play and that he got better every week. Several people told me that Chance is fun to watch play. And people are noticing that Chance has improved since the beginning of the season.

Chance is devoted and he wants to be a good player. He practices at home with friends and he watches to pick up new moves. Sometimes Chance has come home and showed me some fancy footwork that he has mastered.

I have noticed that the coach will do what I used to do when Chance does not hear her. She lowers her voice. That seems to help Chance hear better. When Chance had hearing aids, I would lower my voice by several octaves when calling him in the store etc. He heard lower frequencies better. People around me in the store wondered if I had some sort of disorder since I called my other kids in my normal voice and then suddenly lowered it to talk to Chance, but that just goes to show that you shouldn't judge:)

I think people are impressed that Chance is playing so well. They see the implants, but that is not the focus of their attention once they see Chance play.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A bridge over troubled waters

While at the park for the Alexander Graham Bell Associations, Talk, Walk, Run..I took Chance and his siblings for a walk along a very active river.

We came to a bridge and the kids were throwing leaves and sticks into the water on one side of the bridge, and then dashing to the other side to see the items bobbing through on the other side.

Chance's brother made the comment of how fast the river was flowing and how the water just sucked the sticks etc. in and they couldn't get out.

After the comments from his brother and my warning earlier about how fast and deep the river was, Chance decided to take some precautions.

I watched him start to take his implants off and hold them snuggly in his hand.

When I asked Chance why he was taking the implants off, he told me that they could fall into the river and float away. So he was going to hold onto them while we were throwing things over the bridge.

Ahhh. Chance is devoted to his implants. He wants to keep them away from harm.
The thought does my heart good too:)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Chance wins the race!

This weekend was the Talk, Walk, Run for the local chapter of the Alexander Graham Bell Association. It is a 1K and 5K race designed to raise awareness to the fact that deaf and hard of hearing people can listen and talk.

We all met at a park and ate breakfast that really nice scout leaders and spouses of A.G.Bell members prepared.

Chance is a fast little runner and this is an event that he looks forward to. He is always telling us that he wants to be a runner when he grows up.

His brother was telling us about an evening when several boys in the neighborhood were playing a game. Chance's brother kept running circles around the boy who was 'it" and was asked," How do you get away like that?! "

One of the other boys responded,"You should see his brother Chance! He can run faster than any kid I've ever seen!"

To validate that comment, Chance came in first in the 1K race on Saturday. He ran the race in 4 minutes and 43 seconds.


People at the park asked us about our group (we all had matching t-shirts designed by none other than Chance's dad). It is good to get together with other families and people who have hearing loss or who are deaf and talk. So many people just don't realize that is possible. I was one of them.

We had a great time and many of us parents got to discuss our plans for our kids next year. Would our kids totally mainstream in school? We compared speech therapy options. Were our kids getting enough?

Some of the people at the park were new faces that came to run and support our cause. Others our people that have become friends over the years. We are all on this hearing loss or deafness journey together. It is nice to have good people along for the ride.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Implants and their ties with the FBI

As I was getting ready for church on Sunday, Chance came in all dressed in his suit and tie...along with his over the ear piece for the body unit implant to use for his work with the FBI.
He explained to me that the FBI had things that go over their ears just like his implant with a wire running down from it.

Chance was gleaming.

One never knows when you will need an FBI agent at church. Especially since this was the Sunday that Chance's baby sister was getting blessed. Our church does not baptize babies, but they are given a special blessing when they are infants.

There would be lots of pictures taken after the service and it occurred to me that Chance seems to gravitate to his body worn implant when ever there is the possibility of pictures. He does not plan this on purpose, it just seems to work out that if Chance wants to wear the body unit, there will be pictures taken. Or in this case it is the week Chance has joined the FBI.

Well, it is always nice to know that should anything go down, Chance at least looks like an FBI agent and has things under control.