So, after the phone incident, I had a call in to the doctor. Tate has a pretty high pain-threshold, so I thought it possible that he might have an ear infection. The doc looked in Tate’s ears, saw nothing unusual, and suggested that he might be congested, and we should give it a couple of weeks to see if anything changed.
Really, I knew it wasn’t congestion, but figured that two weeks wouldn’t make any difference either way. At that point we were referred to our local university’s Audiology Department, for testing.
These are very fine people. They saw Tate three separate times, made it as fun and pleasant for Tate as they could, and even managed to do a non-sedated ABR test by having me bring him in at nap-time. (He’s a very sound sleeper!) While they did a thorough job of explaining the tests and results to me, I really didn’t comprehend just how much my little Tater-bug was missing. Next, we were referred to Children’s Hospital, in Seattle, and met an angel in disguise, our Audiologist, Kimberly.
Honestly, if there were some kind of award I could give to the people who have been the most helpful to us, Kimberly would get the first one! She was unfailingly kind, always patient, genuinely encouraging, and a font of information without being overwhelming or too ‘clinical’. She has a way about her that is completely professional, while making you wish she would move in next door.
When Kimberly met us, having already reviewed the results from Tate’s previous testing, she retested Tate twice more before ordering his first HA’s. I thought nothing of this, at the time, it was just hoops we had to jump through to get Tate what he needed.
Warning - Bragging Mom Moment:
She later told me why all the testing... Seems that his verbal abilities didn’t match his test results. As well as he could speak, he just couldn’t be that deaf. So she kept testing him.
He was that deaf.
I remember Kimberly playing a tape for us, of a man speaking. It sounded “normal” at first, but as the tape went on his voice became quieter and more distorted/muffled. The tape reached a point where she said, “This is how Tate hears.”
I was shocked. My son heard that badly?
So the journey began…
Here’s Tate, having impressions done for his first earmolds. He’s cooperative and patient, but puzzled by this strange experience.
And then, August 14, 2002… the Big Day!
Tate looks mildly annoyed, as if he were thinking, “What is it with everyone messing around with my ears?”
And then the “Ah ha!” moment.