The Second Cochlear Implant
Second implantation: November 15th 2004- Sarah is 2 years and 3 months old. This time we can’t walk her into the OR as she is too old. But she doesn’t even bat an eye. She is allowed to pick out a vehicle to ride into the OR and she chooses the little red car (I think the corvette was taken) gives us a wave and off she goes with Jody. Never looks back. That’s our girl!!! Funny enough...we are just as nervous this time around. We have full confidence in the surgeon Dr. Oghali as well as the anesthesiologist Dr. Kobeler. We had requested him after being told by Jodi that his grandson received a CI just a few months prior. He doesn’t sing her a song about 4 little ducks but he does tell her not to stop by chick Filet on the way home!! We go home that afternoon.
Activation Dec 9th - A success again! This time the volume is turned on extremely low and Sarah does acknowledge that she hears something as she points to her left ear but then she immediately resumes playing with Mr. Potato Head. During the next 2 weeks the volume is turned up till it matches the right side. We initially start Sarah with a second BWP but after one week it is obvious that the weight of the two is too much. Sarah is only 30 pounds and looks like a small pack donkey!! We switch to the Espirit 3G BTE in her newer "ear" and about 5 months later we switch the other ear to a BTE. Her ears are still small so we keep the BTE’s in place with a little toupee tape works wonderfully!!
Learning to hear with the second implant is not much different than the first implant. During her scheduled speech therapy sessions we remove the first "ear"(right) and work on her new "ear". At home I work with her new "ear" daily for about an hour, which is all Sarah will allow. She likes to hear and gets upset if we keep her old "ear" off too long. It doesn’t take long ...about 5 months...till Sarah finishes playing "catch-up". By then she is almost 3 years old. She is speaking in full sentences...answering questions...asking questions...just like a normal 3 year old. She graduates from ECI and tests into the local public school system. The results of her test, taken 3 months before her 3rd b-day...show that she didn't qualify for ST through the public school system!!! Receptively she is testing at 4 1/2 year old level and expressively is right on target at a 3 year old level. Wow!!! But for obvious reasons...she is deaf....she is accepted.
March/2006: Sarah attends school 3 days/week at a mom's day out program. She has been there for 1 year and loves it!!! She has many friends and is up to par with all her peers. She carries on entire conversations...sings her favorite song "Jingle Bells", stands up in class to answer questions everything a normal 3 1/2 year old does. She seems to have no problems hearing in relatively loud background noise (i.e. restaurant). She seems to localize extremely well. She attends the local elementary school twice weekly for 30 minutes to work on sounds which still give her some trouble "k", "g", "th", "l". Her ST Nancy O’Hare is wonderful…over 40 years of experience.
She is very aware of both implants...if one magnet slips off she immediately replaces it. If the batteries die in one implant she immediately comes running to me telling me that “her ear doesn’t work”. She appears to be hearing everything. Her ST Nancy O'Hare recently spent a day at Sarah's school and observed Sarah. Her judgment was that Sarah didn't seem to miss anything. Whether or not this is true..only time will tell.
Our daughter is a blessing to us…deafness and all. I am a stronger person because of Sarah’s disability. I have learned that for every struggle that I go through...this is one less struggle that she has to go through.
One of my favorite quotes is in a book that was given to me before Sarah was even born. The author is Javan:
I speak because I know my needs
I speak with hesitation because I know not yours
My words come from my life’s experiences
Your understanding comes from yours
Because of this
What I say and what you hear
May not be the same
So if you will listen carefully
But not with your ears
Maybe somehow we can communicate
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