In early March I noticed that Elijah seemed to be signing “milk”. I watched for several days and indeed he was signing “milk” after his bath. He knew what would be coming next. My husband and I were very excited. After all of these months we were finally seeing some progress.
I continued to work with Elijah on his developmental skills. I had a week off for Spring Break and he and I would go back and play in his brother, Jacob’s, room. Jacob had a train table that was just perfect for Elijah. Elijah really wanted to get up there and play so I made him pull himself up. I helped more in the beginning, but every day he was able to do more and more by himself. I called it doing “baby pull ups”. It really helped increase his arm strength. Within another week he was crawling on all fours instead of creeping. He also started to pull himself up more and more.
I also contacted Dr. Berlin to see if he would see Elijah. He called me and said that yes he would examine Elijah. Another doctor he works with contacted me via email and we started discussing possible dates. I wanted to wait until the summer so that I would be out of school. I had only a few sick days remaining at work.
After a few weeks of correspondence the date of June 11th was agreed upon. I spoke with the Callier Center again and they wanted to wait and see what Dr. Berlin said before we decided on hearing aids for Elijah. We went back for another ABR in April nothing had changed. His OAE’s continued to be absent and his ABR was the same. We also asked that a Middle Ear Muscle Reflex(MEMR) test be done. His MEMR was also absent. Dr. Berlin was not surprised by this.
We settled in to wait until June. Elijah’s first birthday came at the end of the month. Unfortunately, he got sick and was put on steroids and antibiotics. He was a trooper at his birthday party though. He really dove into the cake when it was presented to him. It had been such a long year. Elijah’s health soon returned. The school year ended and I would be home all summer with my boys.
David and I had received information about a Family Retreat Weekend at the State School for the Deaf in Austin earlier in the year. It was going to be the first weekend of June. We signed up for it and traveled down there right after I got out of school. We also got to see my sister and brother-in-law who live in San Antonio. It was a great trip. We met some other families with deaf children and many deaf adults who shared a wealth of information. Elijah watched everyone who signed so closely. Elijah’s expressive and receptive sign vocabulary had also increased.
We came home and I prepared for our trip to New Orleans so see Dr. Berlin. My mom and I were taking the boys down to New Orleans. We would be flying down on June 9th and visiting with some family who would drive in from Mobile on the tenth. Elijah developed a cough the night before we left, so I called the pulmanologist the next morning. He said he would call in some medicine when we got to New Orleans.
We flew down with no problems although Elijah would not sit still. It was Jacob’s first plane ride and he really enjoyed it. We got settled in at the hotel and found a pharmacy. We soon got the medicine. We also did breathing treatments with the nebulizer. My grandmother and some other relatives came over on Sunday. We had a grand time. Jacob got to dance with his great-grandma at a restaurant.
My mom dropped Elijah and me off , to see Dr. Berlin on that Monday morning. Elijah’s OAE’s were done again as were a few other tests. Dr. Berlin and I spoke. He asked what I wanted for Elijah and I responded that we wanted him to get a cochlear implant. Dr. Berlin agreed and wrote up a report. He also called the audiologist at the Callier Center. I am very fortunate to have been able to have Elijah seen by Dr. Berlin.
We flew home on the twelth and I took Elijah into the pediatrician. I had called that morning for an appointment. His cough was still quite bad. He prescribed more breathing treatments and advised that I go into the pulmanologist. We went in three days later to see the pulmanologist. He changed the medicine we used in the nebulizer and prescribed one more inhaler. We did all of the breathing treatments that weekend, but nothing seemed to help. By Monday morning, he was quite sick. I took him into the pulmanoligst again and he was admitted to the hospital.
Elijah had bronchitis and another nasty infection in his lungs. We spent eight days in the hospital with him. We were supposed to go for ear mold fittings that week but had to reschedule for the following week. In fact the day he got out of the hospital we went to Calliers for his ear molds. For three weeks we had to do nebulizer treatments for Elijah. He was also on some strong antibiotics. We got his hearing aids two weeks after the ear mold fittings. They were cute little blue hearing aids with blue ear molds. He didn’t seem to mind them much. They did some testing in the booth and he did respond to some loud sounds with them. We scheduled another visit for four weeks to retest him and see how he was doing.
In the midst of all this, the surgeon that Calliers used dropped my insurance. I then had to find a new ENT or fight the insurance company. I decided to find a new ENT and he said that he would take all of Callier’s testing since they had been approved for the psycholoigical and speech evaluations for the implant as well as for the audiological evaluation.
Four weeks later we went back to have Elijah’s hearing tested again. He really didn’t show much improvement with his hearing aids. We did get a good behavioral audiological evaluation on him though. They reset the hearing aids and asked me to come back in a week. The next week we went in. I reported that he still didn’t seem to hear with the hearing aids. Another behavioral hearing test was done and we got consistent results. He should an average of a 110 dB loss without his hearing aids and responded to sound at 105 dB with his hearing aids. It was a whole 5 dB gain. This test was done on August 9th. We were scheduled to go back on August 21st for the psychological and speech evaluations. We kept the hearing aids until then.
We went into see the ENT on August 15th. I had faxed all of Elijah’s information to them. Calliers also shared the most recent testing. I also had Dr. Berlin’s report. The ENT saw no reason that Elijah should not be implanted, but we needed to get all of the testing done and we also needed to see the auditory-verbal therapist he used.
We saw the auditory-verbal therapist that next week. Elijah performed very well for her and she was impressed with his motor skills. She said that she would recommend the implant. We finished the other testing on the twenty-first and had a team meeting that day. The team agreed that Elijah should be implanted and asked that I keep them up to date on his progress since we would be changing teams now and going with the new ENT.
Two weeks later the new ENT had all of the testing to submit to the insurance company. I forgot to mention that back in July I had requested a case manager with my insurance company. She had been a life saver many times when I needed to get approval on testing. I contacted her and asked her how long it would take for them to approve the implant. She said that is usually takes about three business days. The ENT’s office submitted the paperwork late on the afternoon of Sept. 6th, a Thursday. I finally received the news on Tuesday, September 11th that the surgery had been approved. It was the only bright spot of that day with the terrorist attack happening that morning.
Elijah had also started to make great gains developmentally. He had been “cruising” all summer and finally started walking on his own on September first. He was also responding to many signs and was now signing “eat, drink, and sleep.” Things were finally coming together.