Monday, December 14, 2015

Chance takes his implants off at the family party

Last night, we had a family Christmas party.  As part of the party we played a game using white elephant gifts.  Everyone brought a gift to exchange, and since they were white elephant gifts, many of the gifts were gag gifts or funny gifts.  For example some of the gifts last night included an empty box full of "a lifetime of air", candy with cleaver sayings, a canister of PlayDoh. Chance brought a funny framed picture of himself which he signed. There was also a blanket, a game and a puzzle etc.  The gifts are all placed in the middle of the room and there is a bowl full of numbers that everyone draws from.  When your number comes up, you pick a gift out of the center of the room.  Once you open it and see what is inside, you can either keep that gift or steal a gift you want that someone else opened.  Once a gift has been stolen twice, it cannot be stolen anymore and the 3rd person to have it gets to keep it.

Sometimes people try to wrap their gift in a way that makes it look really appealing.  And sometimes, people call out and try to get you to pick certain gifts.  When it was Chance's turn, many of his cousins called out to him telling him which gift to choose.  Chance just took the magnet part of his implants off and then smiled at everyone and said, "What? I can't hear you!"

In the end, our family came home with some old fashioned candy and Play Doh among other gifts.  We got to eat good food and visit with family.  And Chance added a new twist to the game by taking off his implants when he was done hearing the suggestions of his cousins:)

Monday, December 07, 2015

Chance = sick = no implants = captions

Chance has been sick today and that means that he has spent most of the day without his implants on. When Chance gets a headache, he tends to just go without his implants.  Of course, he still talks to us and acts like he will hear our answers. He also likes to draw all of the blinds when he sick so that it is nice and dark.

We watched a devotional on television tonight and Chance still didn't want to put on his implants. There were subtitles and Chance is excellent at reading subtitles.  He really seemed to be paying attention because he was taking notes.  Taking notes and reading subtitles.....that takes skills.
Chance can also read lips extremely well.

Ammon on the other hand, does not like his implant and hearing aid off when he is sick. In fact, he gets really perturbed when his implant is off for even a few minutes.  He puts them on first thing in the morning and he doesn't take them off until he is settled for the night. I wonder if this is because he had hearing with out implants and hearing aids up until about a year and a half ago.  For Chance, being deaf is pretty natural.  He likes that he can take his implants off and have quiet.  Ammon doesn't seem to crave the quiet of not hearing. We'll have to see if it stays this way.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Have You Seen This Rechargeable Battery Pack?

We have had implants in our family now for about 9 and 1/2 years.  In all that time, we have never permanently lost a rechargeable battery pack.  Sure one would go missing every once in a while, but we always found it eventually.

That has now changed.  We lost a battery pack.  Ammon's new battery pack.  It is new because he has had an implant for less than a year now. It happened at a birthday party.  The party goers had gone to a trampoline place where kids are able to have immeasurable amounts of fun doing flips on trampolines, playing dodge ball on trampolines and jumping into foam filled pits.

Now, if you are thinking that this scenario was a disaster waiting to happen, I want you to know that I planned this all out.  I called the boy's mother and we talked about the implants and had a plan. Ammon was going to wear his implant and hearing aid to the facility, then, when the boys all started dashing off to jump, he was going to give his hearing devices to the boys mother in his little yellow hard case that would offer protection.  The case even has a strap to put around your wrist should you so desire.

The plan played out very well at first.  The kids got to the trampoline place, Ammon took off his devices and handed them to his friend's mom as he ran up a ramp leading to a trampoline. Then the kids had fun for 2 hours.

When it was time to go, Ammon got his implant and hearing aid back from the mom.  He asked her where the battery pack was.  She didn't know.  She didn't realize that the implant had two parts until that moment.

The search began.  This woman and her husband emptied her purse where the implants were, looked around couches, got down and searched under chairs and around the foam pits.  They found nothing.

Meanwhile, Ammon got home from the party and after excitedly telling me how fun it was, he went about his business.  He mentioned something about needing a battery pack, but I thought he meant his implant battery was about to die.

Then the phone rang. This poor mom asked me if Ammon had said anything about his implant at the party.  I could tell she was a little nervous, then she told me that they had lost the battery pack and had searched all over the place for it, but found nothing.  She felt really bad and responsible. I told her that it was part of the program when you have kids with implants and that we were not mad at them at all.
She said that she had accidentally left the yellow case on the kitchen counter with some other things that she was supposed to take to the party, and had wrapped the implants and hearing aid in a napkin before putting them in her purse.  She didn't realize there were two parts to the implant until Ammon asked about them after the party.  I am sure this was not a fun phone call for her to make.

So, my husband and I drove down to the trampoline place. Kind of like a date where you go searching for implant parts together.  Doesn't everybody do that?  We looked under couch cushions, under chairs, around foam pits and around the dodge ball pit.  We found nothing.  Some of the workers helped us look and they were very nice and helpful.  We left our name and number so they could call us if the battery turned up.

It has been three weeks now, and the battery has not shown up.  I think we may have to admit that the battery has moved on to another place.  That means buying a new battery (several hundred dollars), which we have not yet done.  We have been surviving on disposables hoping the rechargeable one would turn up.

I guess it was bound to happen eventually when you have two kids with implants in the family.  By the way, if you should find this battery pack, we are looking for it.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Movies and Treats

Halloween was on a weekend this year which meant more opportunities to party.  And we partied all day long.  We started out with Ammon's birthday party, which involved a pinata, games and donuts.  Then we headed off to Chance's last soccer game of the season. It was a BEAUTIFUL day to be playing soccer.

As the sun set, we headed over to a friend's house for dinner and then started trick or treating through the neighborhood.  The weather was so nice that it was delightful to be out and about.  The kids ran from door to door saying, "Trick or Treat!"  We saw people we knew on our journey and chatted with folks as we made our rounds around the neighborhood. There was no chilly wind or rain or freezing temperatures this year.  Instead, we could hear crispy leaves blowing down the road,  and enjoy the walk from house to house. Naturally we had our annual theme going on which this year was Hawaiian.  Since Chance studied in Hawaii this past summer, the theme only seemed appropriate.

After the trick or treating, the teenagers in the house had a party.  We had rootbeer with dry ice, chips and salsa and of course candy.  The kids all brought a bag of candy to share. The little kids watched "A Charlie Brown Halloween," while counting their Halloween spoils.  All was going as planned.

But then, Chance and his party downstairs started to watch a movie.  Chance and his deaf friend came upstairs and said they needed captioning.  BUT, Ammon was upstairs using the device that supplied the captioning for his Charlie Brown movie.

We love captioning at our house.

Thankfully the Charlie Brown movie was not long so everyone got a piece of the captioning to make the night complete.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The power of hearing

This time last year, I was scrambling to find motivation for Ammon to wear his hearing aids.  It was not uncommon for us to arrive at a store or at grandma's house and find that Ammon had not brought his hearing aids.  I was constantly checking that boy's head to see if he had them on.  He did not like to wear them and he often avoided wearing them until we made him put them on.

Last Halloween, a dear friend of mine who goes all out when decorating for Halloween offered to have Ammon come to her house to help put up Halloween decorations as a reward for wearing his hearing aids consistently.  It was a great plan as Ammon LOVES Halloween and loves to decorate.

Flash forward to this year and more specifically tonight at bedtime. Halloween is only a few days away but things are a little different now.  Ammon thought that his hearing aid batteries were all gone as the ones in the case he has been using have all been used. I thought we had more but since I wasn't sure where they were, we told Ammon that we would get some hearing aid batteries first thing tomorrow morning. That brought on much anxiety for Ammon along with some weeping and wailing.  He told us in no uncertain terms that he could not wait until morning to get his batteries because if the battery currently in his hearing aid went dead, he would not be able to hear when he got up.  Nothing we could say would console him.  He wanted hearing aid batteries and he wanted them now.  He was really upset so I told him to go lay down on his bed and I would look in one more place that could have batteries. That place was my purse.  Mom's purses are equipped with all sorts of life saving devices.

I walked back to Ammon on the bed and showed him the case full of batteries from my purse. It is difficult to have a conversation with your deaf child in the dark when their implants and hearing aids are off, but I could see that he was visibly relieved and would now be able to settle down enough to sleep.

What an amazing turn of events.  Last year I was bribing Ammon to wear his hearing aids and tonight he could not rest until he knew he would not have to go without them even for a few minutes in the morning. Our boy likes to hear and he now sees that his hearing aid is a vital part of that process.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Chance and his mountain bike

Chance bought a new mountain bike.  His brother found one in a pawn shop and it was in great shape so Chance pulled some of his money from his bank account and got himself a bike.  Chance has wanted a bike for a while, especially one that can help him keep up with his brother when they go mountain biking.

Chance took his bike into a local bike shop to get it tuned up and has taken his bike out for a test drive. The bike is apparently working well. Chance headed up a mountain by his grandma's house  with his brother and a friend. His friend broke his brake handle, but in the end everyone returned home okay and in one piece.  There are few things that can match the beauty of the mountains in the fall when the leaves are changing colors.  Riding through the  fall trees on a mountain bike is exquisite.

Chance went out for a ride again this weekend and came back with some battle wounds from falling off his bike while coming down a challenging mountain trail.   He got right back up on the bike and told us when he got home that the fall was worth it.  The mountains were beautiful and he was having a great time with his brother and a friend.

I think Chance is quite happy with his mountain bike purchase.  And it is a great way to enjoy the fall weather and mountain colors.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Costco crisis

I took Chance's brother Ammon shopping with me to Costco along with his younger sister.  All was well on our shopping trip and we were almost done.  We were on the very last isle at the back of the store, the furthest spot from the front door, when  Ammon told me in a panicked voice that his implant battery was dying.  He then informed me that we were going to have to go out to the car to get a new one.

I told him that we only had two more isles to shop and then we were done so we would get the battery when we got back out to the car.

Ammon didn't have his hearing aid in, so when the implant died, he wasn't hearing.  And he didn't like it one bit.  Three separate times as we made our way to the front of the store to pay for our goods, Ammon yelled,"We have to go get a battery right now mom!" or "Mom! We have to go NOW!" and "I am leaving right now mom even if you don't come!"

Ammon of course couldn't hear my responses and since Ammon is deaf and all, he was louder than your average shopper and he is 9.  To the typical shopper at Costco, he looked like a rather snotty child who was telling me what to do. He was telling me what to do but that is because he was panicked at not being able to hear.  This is why I am very careful about judging other parents in stores or anywhere else for that matter.  You just really never know what is going on.

One special thing that deaf children can do when they can't hear you, is look away so they can't see you either.  This effectivlely cuts off all communication.  With your hearing kids they have to hear you even if they don't want to.  It is their curse.  Deaf children can block you out by looking the other way and that is what Ammon did.

I thought to myself that it had been a long time since I had a meltdown by a deaf child that couldn't hear me in a store.  What parent wouldn't want to experience that again?

I ended up putting my arms on Ammon's shoulders as he leaned against some crates of books.  He looked away, but I put my mouth right next to his right ear and told him he would be able to hear soon, and he needed to stop yelling.  Then I told him a little private joke that he and I share.  I don't even know what he heard of what I said, but he tried not to laugh and accidentally made eye contact with me again.

We made it through the store and as soon as we were in the car, his implant was full of juice again and my happy boy was back.

Wow, he doesn't like not being able to hear.  I can't blame him, he has heard all of his life until the last year.  I think he is attached to this being able to hear thing.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Being in the booth with Chance

Ahhhh, Chance and I got to spend time in the sound booth again last week.  We have been doing this for years now.  Actually, I have not been in a booth with Chance for a while as he is old enough to listen to the beeps on his own.  I went in this last week though just to see how he was doing.

I love implants, I really do.  They have done so much for my children and opened up a whole new world to them.  They are amazing and I am so grateful for the man who invented them and for the companies who make them.

Implant hearing is amazing but Chance is still deaf and does not hear as well as I do.  When we sat in the booth together, we were having a great time.  Chance would tease me about things and I would tease him back.  Then it was time to be quiet and listen.  The audiologist did the sentence test with background noise where a man says a sentence with people talking in the background and Chance repeats what he hears.  The voices in the background start out low and then get louder as the sentences go on.

The sentence may be something like, "She said she will come by tomorrow."  It sounds as if there is a party going on and you are listening to someone speak as several other people at the party are having their own conversations in the background.

Chance did really well.  He was hearing much of what was said at first. As the background noise got louder I could hear all of the sentences. Chance could not.  At one point at the end, Chance just looked at the audiologist and said, " I have no idea."

Experiences like this make me appreciate Chance and his efforts to hear even more.  He lives in a world full of sound, and attends school where there is continual background noise, yet Chance just plugs along and doesn't let his hearing loss hinder him from what he wants to do.

At one point during the hearing test, Chance plopped his shoe up on my lap.  I couldn't say anything since it was supposed to be quiet in the booth, so I just looked at him and shrugged.  He nodded back at me and I looked down to study his shoe and figure out what he was trying to get me to do.  One of the tongues of his shoes was twisted and needed to be pulled back up.  I adjusted that wayward tongue and then Chance smiled at me and took his foot down.  Apparently that was what I was supposed to do.

Who says you can't communicate in the sound booth and have fun?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Do you consider yourself disabled?

Would you like to know what many of my conversations are like with Chance lately?  Here is a sampling:

"Can we go get my learners permit?"

"HEY! We should go get my learners permit right now!"

"Mom, lets go get my learners permit."

"I need to get my learners permit today."

Later with more emotion:
This is Chance's smile when he has had a shot at the dentist's

"I NEED to get my learners permit TODAY!"

Unfortunately for Chance, we have one of our cars in the shop this week so this means we are short a car.  This in turn means that there are less opportunities to go get his learners permit so he can start officially learning to drive.

The driver's license application asks if you consider yourself disabled under the American Disabilities Act.
We are careful when we talk about Chance's deafness with people who may not understand deafness because just telling them that Chance is deaf sometimes makes them think that he is less capable than he is. So what does it mean if you put that you are disabled on your driver's license?  I
I don't want people to automatically assume that Chance is not capable just because he is deaf.  So we called  a deaf friend to ask her about the driver's license application and what it means if you mark you are disabled.
She brought up some great points that I had not thought of before.  Every parent of a deaf child should have access to a deaf adult for a resource of information about what certain things are like if you are deaf and wear an implant or hearing aid.  Thank you my deaf adult friends for helping me see things in your world when I need to.

Our friend told us that she marked she considered herself disabled on her license and a there is a little indicator on the license that says you are deaf if you mark that.

How does this help or hinder someone?

For our friend, she may or may not have been pulled over at night and the policeman may or may not have been shining his flashlight into her eyes and so she could not see him or his lips to lip read.  She may or may not have had a hard time understanding him with the light shining in her eyes and the background noise all around her. The policeman should have actually noticed that her license stated that she was deaf but he didn't.

The point is, I had not thought about Chance being pulled over and not being able to see the officer in the dark while having to battle lot of background noise.

That kind of situation would be intimidating for a hearing person as being pulled over by a policeman is always a bit nerve racking and then if it is dark and the officer is shining a flashlight in our eyes while you fumble for your license and to answer questions........that can be a tense situation all by itself.  Add in being deaf and not being able to hear everything AND not seeing the officer very well...that would be horrible.

Also, if Chance were to be in an accident and his implants came off, having it marked on his license that he is deaf would hopefully help first responders realize that Chance can not hear them and is not ignoring them.  This could be vital information on an accident scene.

We should have our car back this week.  This means that Chance should have an opportunity to get his learners permit and mark that he considers himself disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Chance is certainly capable of doing anything he wants to do, but having policemen and emergency personnel aware that Chance is deaf by looking at his license will help him in the long run I believe.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

School starts again despite the fact that Chance feels summer should not be over yet.

Chance has started school again and he is so excited. He actually thinks that he got ripped off and that summer should have lasted longer, but what kid hasn't felt that at the beginning of a new school year?

Chance had big plans to take a ZUMBA class for P.E. but alas, ZUMBA and Chinese 3 are taught the same hour so he had to choose.  I think Chinese will be more beneficial in the long run, though Chance probably really would have enjoyed ZUMBA.  Chance likes to get his groove on.  Chance will have to take another P.E. class next semester.

Chance has a full schedule like usual.  He is taking math, English, history, chemistry, Chinese, health, drawing, and seminary(a religious studies class). His health class is a concurrent enrollment class which means that he is taking a college level health class that will give him college credit.  Guess which class he is the most nervous about?   DRAWING!  Chance says he does not feel that he can draw very well so this is the class that he is most concerned about right now.

His chemistry class is loaded with some of his good friends including several from the soccer team.  I hope Chance can focus sufficiently in that class:)

We bought some implant batteries that were less expensive than most of the other batteries.  (We had been told by a reputable CI user that they worked well for implants; turns out they were hearing aid batteries, that don't have enough power for implants, but we thought we'd give them a try.)  At first we thought we had gotten a great deal, but alas, we have discovered that these batteries fall under the category that you get what you pay for.  They only last for about 3 hours.  These batteries are therefore not Chance's favorite.  We will be ordering more tomorrow so that Chance does not go crazy trying to keep his implants up and running.  (He ran out of the better ones and so has to fall back to these less powerful batteries until new ones arrive.)

Paying a bit more for batteries is obviously worth it in this case.

(On another note on implant batteries:  When buying the disposables, we have always bought the "recommended" PowerOne brand batteries.  The last time we needed to order, we actually ordered a variety pack to try several different brands, and tracked their life and performance.  Turns out the winner - at least for Chance's use - is the ZeniPower brand - they cost about 30 % less, and last about 30 % longer.  So that's the brand we'll be buying again tomorrow).

We learned this week that insurance companies will pay for pacemaker batteries but not implant batteries because implant batteries are outside the body and not inside the body.  The fact that the implants are implanted inside the head apparently does not matter since the batteries are on the outside.  It is exhausting just thinking about how insurance people come up with some of these rules. I will have to dedicate an entire post to that issue on another day.

Meanwhile, class is in session and Chance is gathering with friends he has not seen all summer and getting ready to further his high school career. He is also wondering when he is going to get his drivers license permit, but that will be another topic that we discuss in another post:)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The fine art of flirting with Chance

So, how does a girl flirt with Chance if she feels so inclined to do so?

Why she takes his implants off of course!

Chance got a shy little smile on his face when I asked him about it and he said he didn't mind when the flirter made her flirter moves.

This flirty girl who takes Chance's implants off is most likely highly attractive and this fact no doubt helps keep Chance's angst down when she takes off his ears.

I need to probe deeper into this situation.  What class is this girl in?  Chance needs the use his ears really bad in math, English. science, history, Chinese and health.  Perhaps drawing is a class he can loose his ears in? He can just watch what the other students are drawing and try to follow?

He can perhaps read the teachers lips if he is sitting up close enough to her while she teaches the class.  But if the flirty girl is in drawing class and she is really cute and smiles while she takes his implants off, I doubt that Chance's focus will be on reading the teachers lips. Even if the girl isn't smiling, I bet Chance isn't giving his teacher his full attention.

Hmmm, I need to figure out what class this girl is in and how long exactly it takes to flirt when taking off implants.  Are the implants off of Chance's head for 1 minute, 5 minutes, 20 minutes?

Call me old fashioned and out of touch, but I have no idea what the protocol is when one is flirting by removing implants.

But I can tell you that Chance does not seem to mind.  Not yet anyway.  Like I said, this girl is most likely highly attractive.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Yellowstone before school

Sulfur hot spot
Our family decided to take a family trip to Yellowstone before school starts again.  We have relatives that live up in the area as well, so we were able to visit with family as well as visit one of the world's most incredible natural wonders.

Yellowstone is full of bubbling cauldrons of water and gasses from the inner belly of the earth.  Some smell better than others since there is a definite sulfur smell that surrounds some of the "hot spots" and the earth mixes some amazing colors into the whole mix as well.
The famous falls of Yellowstone Grand Canyon

We swam in a heated river that sometimes ran hot, and sometimes ran cold. The trick was to find a comfy spot of warm.  Chance and his siblings had a great time riding down the current of the river and enjoying the beauty of their surroundings.

My brain has an interesting process that it has to go through now that I have two deaf children.  When we are at places where implants and hearing aids are taken off, I find myself addressing this question each time I need to talk to one of my children,"Can this child hear me? Oh, yes that is right, this child hears me just fine here in the river."
"Can this child hear me? Nope, this is one of my deafies and I am going to need to reach out and touch them, have someone else in the family touch them or wave my arms like a crazy lady so they will look at me."
If the deaf child is Chance, he can read lips like a professional and so if you can just get close enough to him, he will be able to know what you are saying.
His brother does not have that skill and so we need to get really close to his less-deaf ear on the right side, lean in close and tell him what we need to say.

We can use some sign language with Chance, but his brother's hearing loss is new, and he doesn't know any sign language.  He will most likely start learning some this fall.

Yellowstone is full of bison.  Huge, 3500 pound animals that are massive, majestic, and sometimes mean if they think you are messing with them or they feel threatened.

Chance's dad and I witnessed a bison venting frustration when we visited Yellowstone before we had children.  Just as we entered the park, we stopped in the road because the van in front of us was stopped.  Several children were out of the van and down by the river where a bison was hanging out.  They wanted to get a picture of the bison, and they wanted him to be facing them,so they threw a rock to get his attention.  The bison did not take this action very well.  He charged up the small embankment after the kids who barely made it into their van.  The bison then proceeded to slam his body against the van causing it to rock back and forth.

Needless to say, we have had a healthy respect for these powerful animals ever since.  Bison do not usually just charge people and Yellowstone has millions of visitors a year that never see a bison charge anyone.  It is just wise to have a good healthy respect for all of the animals in the park and keep a good healthy distance.

This year, we had a close encounter with a bison.  We were down by the river next to the bridge where cars and pedestrians can cross over.  There is a path down by the river and the kids saw a ranger and walked over to ask him about where bears live in the park.

During our conversation, a bison decided to cross right down the middle of the bridge.  Cars and people froze in place and just let him cross.  He was huge, and was capable of running much faster than any of us mere mortals can run.

I started to run to catch  my younger children who were headed to the bridge and began to call out to Chance and his siblings who were all spread out on the bridge and pathway.  Chance's brother was actually on the bridge as was his sister.  Chance was off to the side, and Ammon and his sister were by me and their dad.  The ranger hurried up to the bridge saying something like, "Four years of college to play traffic control for a bison."  He helped keep the mood light. The ranger stood up on the bridge helping the people on foot and bikes safely navigate around the wondering bison.

When I caught up to my younger children, I told them that we were going to wait right down by the path and not get any closer to the bridge.  The ranger told them he thought this was a great idea as he passed us on his way up to the bridge. The ranger also told me that the bison might come down onto the path because there was a hill next to it that the bison liked to climb up.  I moved the kids away from the hill and we waited and watched to see where the bison would decide to go.

The bison started walking toward Chance's older brother who was on the bridge.  The bison got to about 6 feet away from him.  It was a tense moment for both Chance's brother and the ranger. The ranger told Chance's sister that she may need to slip under the benches running along side of the bridge since she was small enough but to wait until he told her to go.  The suggested distance to be from a bison is 30 yards.  More if possible.  They can run 30 miles per hour.

The bison choosing the trail over us
The bison crossed the bridge and then started down the stairs that led down to the path.  There we were, just watching him and trying not to get in his way.  I stood with my kids who thankfully just stood still next to me.  The ranger told us to move a little to the right so that the bison would have a clear shot to the path on the hill that the bison like to use.  My younger kids were more to the right with their dad, as was Chance when the bison just stopped to have a look around.  I was standing kind of off a little apart from the others as I had not made it as far a they had before the bison got so close to us.  The bison just stood there, as if surveying the scene, and then he turned his body toward me.  I was over closer to the river than the path on the hill. We just sat and looked at each other for a few seconds while he decided what he was going to do. I felt pretty calm considering the situation, though my mind started to wonder if I was going to need to run should he charge. I looked at his beautiful big brown eyes and waited to see where he was going to go for those few seconds,  then he just swung his massive head around and headed up the path the ranger said he might take.
Chance playing around at Gibbon Falls

It was an amazing experience.  The ranger told us afterward that he thought the bison was going to go for Chance's older brother who said that he was seriously getting ready to jump off of the bridge into the river if the bison walked any closer to him. We are grateful that there was an experienced ranger there to help us stay calm and safe.  We are grateful that no one in the family got hurt and amazed that we got such a close up look at such an amazing creature.  We made a memory that will last a lifetime.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

This is how Chance does Hawaii

Chance chill'in in Manoa Falls in the rainforest of Hawaii

Chance now thinks he is a native Hawaiian.  He has lived on the island for 4 weeks and has made INCREDIBLE friends.  Fellow students at the language camp that kept talking about how they did not know how they were going to go on without each other.  The kids knew that they would not be seeing much of each other after camp because the kids are from all over the United States.  His roommate is from New Jersey, Another friend is from California and yet another from Texas.

The teachers of the camp said that they had never had a group of kids all bond as closely as this group did.  In past camps there would be kids that "clicked" naturally but the 20 kids this year all bonded together and had an incredible, unforgettable experience together.  Chance said the kids all laughed at the end of camp because most of them had been worried that they would arrive to camp and find a bunch of nerdy kids.  The competition was tough this year to get in and the kids who attended the camp had impressive credentials. I don't know exactly how the kids were chosen, but they were all relieved in the end to realize that the other kids attending camp had much more in common with them than they had thought.  And it was quite a lively bunch judging from the video that was made showing aspects of the camp. The kids were all involved and meshed in the experiences offered during camp. There was lots of smiling, activities  and interacting with other campers.  Chance can also now do a wicked kick after practicing martial arts for an hour each day.
At the closing dinner on the last night of camp, the teachers have traditionally handed out Hawaiian chocolate covered macadamia nuts to those students who have really excelled during camp.  This year they couldn't choose just the traditional 2 to 3 students who had really been superior as all of the kids had done so well.  So all of the kids got chocolates.  It is my understanding that this has not happened before.  Chance was truly part of a wonderful group of kids at camp who are now all dear friends.
Many of Chance's friends admitted to him that when they first realized that he was deaf and wore implants, they didn't know how he was going to make it through the rigorous language camp.
Chance catches one of the littlest crabs ever

Chance enjoys a hike through the rain forest
I have noticed that Chance is a bit more adventuresome with food now.  He has always been a little leery of seafood, but he was immersed in some Chinese culture at camp along with learning the language, so he was exposed to lots of new foods.  Although he didn't like all of the new food he tried, he liked a good amount of it and now he is more open to trying different kinds of foods.
He has also been making his way around for a month more independently than ever before, having to find time to fit laundry in between attending classes, finding his way around an entirely different place, working with new people from around the country and experiencing new things that he has never experienced before.  Chance has a confidence about him and his abilities to take on new situations.
Chance has also been listening to many different accents.  For those who are deaf and hard of hearing, this fact will resonate with you. Hearing through accents can be a challenge sometimes.
 Chance also did a great job of staying within his budget:)  Chance worked mowing lawns this spring and summer to earn spending money for Hawaii and he was able to get some great souvenirs along the way, but he also spread his money out over the entire trip. He was careful and wise in his spending and I am proud of him.  There were many things that he could have bought that he chose to pass on.

Chance learns the hula at the Polynesian Cultural Center

Chance and his warrior tattoo. It was temporary, but it was cool while it lasted.

Performers at the sea life park

Hanauma Bay, where Chance went snorkeling among the fishies and coral reef

A little piece of Hawaii

Chance plays at the beach

Chance said that there were wild chickens all over Hawaii.  Who knew? 

The pina colada drink in a pineapple that Chance enjoyed very much.  
Dancers in the boat parade at the Polynesian Cultural Center

Pali Lookout,,,,,,a perfect place to get a good view of the island. Chance said it was really windy the first time he went.

Chance now has an official certificate saying that he has received 90 hours of language instruction during his time at language camp.  He has done a full year's worth of language in 3 weeks.  This puts him in Chinese 3, instead of Chinese 2 at school. 
I think Chance has proven to the skeptics that he is capable of learning a tonal language, implants and all.  It was exhausting at times, and Chance worked really hard, and he has done it.
Chance can now officially say that he is capable of doing hard things.
He also thinks that he can say that he is a native Hawaiian. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hawaiian life and a roommate that is willing to save you

This is what Chance looks like in Hawaii.  He and the birds are obviously having a great time.  I noticed that the shirt is new as well.

Chance has been enjoying island life, though he really does spend most of his days learning the Mandarin language.  He has some great friends and his older brother was sent a clip of Chance and his roommate doing some awesome dance moves.

Chance even got to hang out in the wee hours of the night in the parking lot of the dorms where he is staying.  Apparently, the fire alarm went off in the middle of the night and so the dorms had to be evacuated.  Chance being deaf and all, did not hear the alarms going off, so his faithful roommate tried to wake Chance up.

Chance, in his deep state of sleep, thought that his roommate was trying to wake him up to go running because a few of the kids have been getting up early and running around campus.  Naturally, Chance could not hear what his roommate was saying, so he just kept telling him that he did not want to get up and run today.
When his roommate persisted in waking him up, Chance apparently got more adamant about his non desire to get up and run.  When the roommate still kept trying to arouse him, Chance yelled that he didn't want to get up and run.  Somehow, Chance's roommate managed to wake Chance up enough to tell him that they had to leave the building.

Chance eventually found himself in the parking lot and figured out what was going on.  Firemen checked over the building and the kids were eventually allowed to go back inside.

Chance and his roommate are still friends and I think the roommate deserves a medal for persisting on waking Chance up and getting him outside even when Chance was cranky and ungrateful.  What are the odds that you get a deaf roommate and the fire alarm goes off in the middle of the night and you have to wake him up and convince him that he has to evacuate?

What are the odds that you would fly to Hawaii and get jousted from your bed in the middle of the night due to a fire alarm?

Well, Chance made it out safe and he is still on good terms with his roommate.  I have a special love for his roommate now, he made sure Chance got out and I am grateful.

 Chance is still in Hawaii so life is still going pretty good for him.  And the odds that the fire alarm will go off again, have got to be slim to none.  Which is good news for both Chance and his roommate. 

Monday, July 06, 2015


So, what did you do today?  This is what Chance did today:  He flew to Hawaii,  and after landing on that paradisiacal island, he was whisked off to meet the people he will be spending the next 3 weeks of his life with.  So far, he loves his roommate.  This should prove to be helpful. When we talked to Chance this evening, he said that he loved Hawaii and wanted to move there.  Apparently the island is already working it's magical charm on him.
This trip will be fun, and it will create memories for a lifetime. It will not all be fun and games though.  Although, when we talked to Chance, it was fun and games as all the kids were meeting to play card games. 
Chance will be working hard and learning for the next 3 weeks.  He received a bright yellow t-shirt that says in Chinese: "I speak Chinese."  The person who handed out the shirts told the kids that they would be wearing them everyday.  Chance was not amused at this.  He has spent lots of time packing his suitcase just right.  His suitcase full of clothes.  It turns out that the t-shirt passer outer was confused, and that they will only be wearing that shirt on certain days.  
This language program is going to be exciting, hard work and all day long on most days.  But Chance is ready! If you are going to learn a language, you can't beat the location.  In fact, someone should do a study to see if sending people to Hawaii to learn a foreign language helps them learn it better.  
I myself would be willing to sacrifice and go to Hawaii as part of a long term study. I am sure there are at least a few others that would be willing to live in Hawaii for a year or two to see such a study through.

We arrived at the airport early this morning to see Chance off.  We were able to accompany him to the gate at the airport due to his age and as we walked, we told him what to expect.  Despite all of our weeks of talking to Chance about what was going to happen, he still told his brother that he didn't realize that airplanes could go that fast down the runway.  He also said that the landing was really bumpy.  But he is in Hawaii, so he can live with the bumpy landing.
When we were walking through the airport, I asked Chance if he could hear the overhead announcements in the airport.  He shook his head at me and said that he could tell that there were announcements, but he had no idea what was being said.  This is just one reason why it is good that he is traveling with his cousin.  She was the ears for both of them when it came to any important overhead announcements.
It was a little funny explaining to the airline workers that Chance was deaf with implants when we did things like go through security, and then turn around and talk about how he was learning Mandarin.  Deaf kid learning Mandarin.  It doesn't get much better than that.
I should have many updates as to how Chance's trip is going.  He will want to share his excitement and I have threatened him that he will never be able to get his driver's permit if he doesn't contact home.  Between those two things, he should have sufficient motivation to keep in contact:)
Chance is on his own in a way he has never been before.  He arrived to stay with strangers, he will be responsible for working in doing loads of laundry in between all of his activities, he will be experiencing new foods and new people all while learning a foreign language.
I think he is going to love it and we are so excited for him.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The School for the Dead

I just finished having a conversation with Chance's brother Ammon.  One of the great things about having a deaf child is, when they hear things wrong, they think that it was you that said something wrong, not them that heard something wrong.

An example of this was the conversation I just had with my son.  Chance is at a friend's house where he is hanging out with some of the kids who attended The School for the Deaf with him.  Chance has a few friends with implants that he sees regularly and they have just discovered the where abouts of another friend they went to school with so they are all getting reacquainted again.  I was on the phone telling Chance's dad that Chance was hanging out with some friends from The School for The Deaf, when my other deaf son Ammon overheard me.

He misheard what I said though, and I heard him turn to his sister and say,

"Mom said Chance is with kids from the School for the Dead. That is funny huh?"

When I got off the phone I corrected him and said, "School for the Deaf, that is where  his friends are from."

Ammon said, "You said School for the Dead the first time."

Naturally, I am the one in the wrong when it comes to my deaf son hearing what I said:)

Ammon was a baby when Chance was attending the School for the Deaf, so that phrase is not part of his regular vocabulary.

So, just so you all know, Chance attended both The School for the Deaf AND "The School for the Dead."  I'll have to ask him which school he liked better when he gets home.

Monday, June 08, 2015

100 miles or bust!

Chance can now say that he has biked 100 miles.  In one day.  All at one time.  Over two mountain passes.  He had trained for this.  He had prepared for this. Then on Friday, he did it!  And this after a 10-mile mountain hike on Thursday, in the Grand Tetons!

He climbed mountains, putting all the power he could into the course.  He got rained on.  And hailed on.  (He has welts to show for it.)  But he kept going.

He rode through the beautiful states of Wyoming and Idaho.  90% of the ride was in Wyoming.  It took from 7:15 in the morning until about 6:30 at night.  Chance's scout troop held the line and helped each other meet their goal.  Boys who were struggling on the ride were supported on by boys who were near the front.  They all cheered each other on.

He rode over two mountain passes.  The first one was a 3-mile 7% grade for the final push after already climbing a steady 3% climb for several miles!!!  (If that doesn't mean anything to you - it's STEEP!)  The second one was a 2-mile 6% final push.

One of the scout leaders is an avid biker and Chance was able to keep up with him even going up the hills and ended up being the first boy over both mountain peaks.  All of that soccer training where Chance came home exhausted paid off:)

Chance now knows that he can do hard things, like bike 100 miles in one day through rain and hail and live to tell the tale.

His dad was one of the leaders on the trip - and rode the first third of the trip with him - so he got some footage to share:

You don't see messages like this everyday on the highway.

Chance is the guy in blue with a yellow Cochlear shirt underneath. Notice many of the boys have Cochlear shirts:)

On the road again......

There is Chance keeping up with his scout leader on a looooooooong moutain climb.

They made it! 

Chance and his dad enjoy the waterfall at the end of their 10 mile hike.

What a view!

Monday, June 01, 2015

Living with hearing loss

I attended high school and church having a hearing loss this week.  I know, I know, I can't really know what it is like to live with a hearing loss because quite frankly, for a hearing person to block off all of their hearing is really hard if not impossible.

You can wear earplugs, and try to get a feel for what it is like to hear LESS but you can't make yourself deaf where no sound is coming through unless you are in some sort of a booth.  Even then, that would make it quiet because you can't hear noise coming in from the outside, but if you decide to move a tissue box or move your chair or brush lint off of your clothes, that stuff all makes sound.

I am currently taking a diversity class and one of the assignments was to see what it was like for people living with blindness, or who were a minority etc.  Having hearing loss was not on the list so I drew up a plan and sent it to my teacher to see if she would let me live a day with hearing loss.

She agreed. This is what I used to give myself a degree of hearing loss.  The ear plugs I used looked exactly like this.  Only they were brighter orange so I kept pulling my long hair over my ears to try to cover them up.  I didn't want to draw attention to my ears, the point was to see what it was like to live the day with hearing loss.

I contacted Chance's school and got permission from the dean of students to attend school for an afternoon.  The staff at the school know me so the dean of students told the office what I was doing and had me check in with the office and get a visitor pass to wear all afternoon.  One of the stipulations I made for myself in my request to spend a day being hard of hearing was that I eat lunch with the high school students in the cafeteria.  I did this because the lunchroom in a school is SOOO loud and sound is bouncing all around.  I figured I could only get a feel for having hearing loss at school if I ate with the other students.

As it turned out, it was a very warm day, so the majority of the students ate outside on the hill and steps in front of the school by the parking lot.  Chance was playing soccer and gave me a smile when he saw me.  I had told him and his brother that I would be coming to school but that they didn't need to be with me when I sat in their classes etc. and could just go on as normal.  As normal as you go when your
mom is attending school with you in your classes:)
I didn't just go to random classes because that would make it harder to get permission to come to the school as no one would know where I was.  I just told the dean of students that I would attend classes with one of my boys so he knew what classes I would be in.   There were four periods of classes and the boys had two of those classes together.  

So I sat on the hill in front of the school eating a sandwich and getting a feel for the earplugs that I had squished down into my ears.  It was unnerving to cut my hearing off.  I could still hear some stuff, but everything was much quieter and I didn't always hear things the first time.  Background noise from all of the chatter of several conversations going on by students around me became like a buzz that I couldn't fully understand. Perhaps I can better explain this by explaining how it usually is for me in these situations. 
 With my everyday hearing, I could sit on the hill and watch Chance play soccer while easily sorting through the conversations going on around me.  I would hear students talking about where they were going after school, what their parents had said and what teacher they did or did not like etc.  With the ear plugs, all of those conversations became more like a background buzz, and I couldn't easily sort through and then discard the conversations going on around me.  I spent more time really looking at what was going on around me to make up for the loss of hearing.  What really got me though were the cars.  Since it was lunchtime and students, teachers and parents were coming and going from the school, many cars passed right behind me on the hill as I ate.  I would not hear them coming though from a great distance like I used to so I kept finding myself being startled as cars would drive by right behind me.

The bell rang and it was time to go to class.  Chance helped guild me to the first classroom I would be going to with his brother.  The desks were arranged in a big circle as they were having a class discussion that day.

  I explained to the teacher what I was doing and she was gracious to let me join her class. It was a teacher I knew as I had done a presentation for her class last year on the book, "The Hiding Place," since I had been to the Ten Boom house where the true story had taken place.  The office had been told about what I was doing but not every teacher knew. 

 I found one of the few empty seats which happened to be almost directly across from the teacher in the circle.   When class began, the teacher started going around the circle asking kids what they had liked and disliked about what they had done this semester in her class.  She told the kids that she wanted them to give honest feedback so she could see what had worked and what could be improved. I obviously had not been in class all semester so I wasn't sure what the teacher would do when she came to me.  Normally, this would not have been a big deal, I would have just waited until it was my turn in the circle and then introduced myself.  However, with my hearing loss, I could not hear the responses of all of the students leading up to me.  I could hear some of the responses, but some of the kids talked quietly and even to hear the ones that were pretty loud that were across the room from me, required me to concentrate to hear everything they said and I sometimes missed some words that they said.   I had no context as to what they were talking about at first but soon I clued into some of the units they had talked about all year.  Since I wasn't hearing everything that was said, I began to be nervous about the teacher calling on me when it came my turn in the circle.  I was worried I would miss what she said.  Luckily, she passed over me and then I could relax.

The class had a study period where students could read or study together for the final exam which was coming up in a few days.  I took this time to write some of my thoughts down in a notebook about my newly acquired hearing loss.  The desks were pretty close together and my desk happened to be one the kids would squeeze by when they needed to get to the other side of the room.  One girl had left and then come back into class.  She knocked my notebook off of my desk, but another boy just picked it up and gave it back to me and it was no big deal.  I thought the girl hadn't even realized that she had knocked the notebook off.

She had noticed, and apparently she apologized profusely.  I didn't hear her since I was looking down and  writing on another sheet of paper and many of the kids in the class were talking about the final so there was quite a bit of noise in the room.  

My son later told me that the girl was one who felt very bad about everything and when she knocked my notebook off, she had told me that she was very sorry.  My son was about 7 desks down from me and he tried to get my attention but I wasn't looking that way so I had no idea about the incident until later that night

I felt horrible that I had not responded to this girl.  I would normally have let her know that it was no big deal and given her a smile.  Since I did not hear her, and the boy in class just picked up the notebook and gave it back, I said nothing to her. I thanked him for picking up the book, but I ignored her on accident.  I hope she didn't take that personally or think that I was mad.

I took lots of notes through out the day about incidents I had with my "hearing loss."  I will share some of them on the blog during the next while mixing them in with other posts about Chance and Ammon. 

Meanwhile, I have more empathy for people who have hearing loss. I got a feel for what it is like when you aren't hearing everything going on around you and how that makes a difference in how you respond to your surroundings.

In church during Sunday School, the teacher will sometimes ask if someone wants to read a particular passage of scripture. Normally I like doing that, but with the ear plugs in, it took me a minute to realize what passage we were supposed to read plus I had a bit of a complex about how loud I might be.  When I had attended school with Chance, he had laughingly told me that I was talking louder.  Chance had also given me a test in the hall of school by putting his hand in front of his mouth and then asking me what he was saying.  I didn't always know exactly what he was saying.   Just being one word off can make a difference sometimes.  

I will report back on the block as I write my paper about hearing loss and share what my experience was.   

I now feel even more for my deaf sons.  And I would just like to say that schools are noisy places sometimes. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

It's good to be Chance

The school year is almost done and Chance is getting ready to take finals this week.  Soccer is over and we attended the soccer awards ceremony last week.  One of the dads who has a son on the soccer team is starting a competitive soccer team that will practice during the summer and then play games in the fall. Chance is excited to be on this team and keep up on his soccer until the school soccer team starts the season again next spring. 

We will head back into the mountains for Implant Camp again!
Chance has an exciting summer ahead.  He will attend scout camp - swimming a mile in a lava hot springs pool, hike 10 miles around a lake and spend one day biking 100 miles.  He will also attend Cochlear Implant Camp with the family.  We went years ago when Chance was little and will now go back to visit our old stomping grounds.   Chance also will FLY TO HAWAII and spend most of July learning Mandarin.  Wow, Chance should have lots of fun and adventure this summer. Due to the fact that he will be gone for much of the month of June and July, it doesn't make sense for him to join swim team this year.  He has been on swim team for years and he really likes it, but this summer will hold new adventures. 
Remember this picture?  I think it was a sign that someday Chance would visit Hawaii.
Chance as he begins his overnight scouting adventures at age 12.
Chance preparing for his scout swim in a lava spring pool years and years and years ago.
Chance did a new thing today with his implant.  He was tired so he was walking around the house after waking up without his implants on and after sitting at the table eating with him not being able to hear, we asked him to put his implants on.

He did put them on, so we all conversed with him like normal, telling him about plans for the week, discussing how his cousin was coming to visit and generally just talking together as a family.  At some point, when he didn't respond like we thought he would to a funny thing that was said, we wondered aloud how Chance didn't seem to hear us.

THAT IS BECAUSE HE PUT THE IMPLANTS ON BUT DIDN'T TURN THEM ON!  What a goober. I guess he just wasn't ready to wake up all the way yet and figured that he would take it slow by first putting the implants on, and then after waiting a respectful amount of time, turning them on.  

Sheesh.  Now we have to worry about him hearing even when the implants are on his head.  

Sunday, May 10, 2015

What's in a stem cell?

The other night I was talking to Chance about stem cells and how many people feel that someday stem cells may be used to help restore hearing to those who are deaf.

Chance said, "I don't know that I would want my deafness fixed though.  There are like two downsides to being deaf and 70 upsides."

So what are the two downsides to being deaf you ask? You can't understand music right away and you have different experiences with activities like scuba diving that involve water.  You can do it, but it is not the same wearing an electronic implant as it is with regular hearing.

A few of the 70 upsides are:  You can go to sleep with out any sound especially on a camp out with grizzly bears attacking or nuclear bombs just don't have to hear those things.

You can ignore people and take off your implants when you want to.  You have jurisdiction over what you hear.

You can make it look like you are charging your implants in class when you are really listening to music.

When you need silent, quiet thinking time, you can just take your implants off and not hear.

I can see Chance's point with some of these things.  Hearing the noises of nature can be relaxing and heighten your awareness when you are camping.  But if you hear strange noises and you start to imagine some wild animal could be joining your camp, then it would be nice to not hear those sounds and be able to sleep peacefully.

Ignoring people can be rude, BUT if you can turn your hearing off and not have to listen to people swearing up a storm or people being loud and rude.....that could be a bonus.

Making it look like you are charging your implants in class when you are actually listening to music.....who would do such a thing?  Perhaps teenagers being naughty in class:)

Being able to slip into a quiet silent world to give yourself time to think could be a lovely experience so I can see the appeal.

All in all, Chance doesn't mind being deaf.  Unlike some people who have other things they would like to see stem cells help, Chance isn't waiting on pins and needles for new developments that may give him the hearing he was born with back.  He is content being deaf.
A young Chance asleep in his blissful world of silence.