Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Let Him Hear

He who has ears to hear, let him hear...

That verse from Matthew has been on my mind, lately, for obvious reasons.  And today was our big day...


A little deja vu?  But this time we had Kerry with us, too :D

Tate was scheduled for a post-op, first.  This doc took a look down in his ear and at the incision to make sure everything was healing well.

We were able to watch on the screen as he removed a couple of stitches that hadn't quite dissolved.

I wasn't kidding when I said the surgeon - Dr. Horn - looks young!  We have complete confidence in him - he did a fabulous job and is personable as well :D

We had the all-clear to proceed to activation.  Tate met his new audiologist - Kerri. (Kerry with a "y" is dad.  Kerri with an "i" is the Audie.)  He'll have two - one for his HA and one for his CI.  And we'll be seeing a lot of her in the next few weeks.  She did a great job of showing and explaining what she was doing.  I like her already :D

If you're expecting something dramatic, I hate to disappoint you.  But we were not at all disappointed with today's results :D  All sixteen electrodes appear to be working!  (One wasn't, right during surgery.)  So here's what happened today...

She activated the electrodes in groups of four (going from low frequency to high frequency, I think).  Tate heard and responded to sound everywhere we hoped.  He's pointing on a chart to how comfortable the sound is for him.  The goal was to set Program 1 at a comfortable level for him.  Program 2 and Program 3 are progressively stronger.
The idea is that he'll work his way up, between appointments.  Kerri compared it to being in a totally dark room and having someone walk in and turn on a light.  At first you blink and squint, but then your eyes adjust and you can turn on a brighter light.  Then when you're comfortable with that, you increase it again, until finally you're in the daylight.  (Program 3 is NOT full "daylight"!  That's later...)  The idea is for Tate to gradually increase the volume on Program 1 and then cycle up as he is comfortable.  She predicted that as he got used to each program it would seem to fade until he wasn't really hearing it.

Does that make sense?  You experienced folks, am I explaining this right?
We'll see her again in two days and everything will get adjusted.  

It's a lot of technology to manage!  Felt kind of like drinking from a fire hydrant ;D  And since the learning curve is steep, we just brought home the Harmony processor today.  Thursday she'll bring us up to speed on the Neptune.  But for now...

feels like Christmas!

We haven't fiddled with any of the accessories to add color, but here he is, all hooked up :D

Kerri was right about him adjusting to the programs.   I think he was already on Program 2 before we hit the freeway.  But I should back up a little...

The million dollar question was, "What do you hear?"  When he turns his HA off and just listens with the CI he can definitely hear sound, but right now it is indistinguishable.  He had a hard time describing it, but compared it to a sound from The Hunt for Red October.  I think he meant the sound Jonesy heard when he knew the Russian sub wasn't a whale but couldn't identify it yet - sort of a mechanical harmonic sound.

Sure, it would have been exciting if he could immediately recognize voices, but we knew ahead of time that wasn't likely.  He hasn't been hearing out of this ear for six years.  If your arm was in a cast for six years you wouldn't expect it to "work" the moment you got the cast off, would you?  I'm thrilled he's hearing SOUND.  We start weekly therapy tomorrow to work on turning the sound into something recognizable and useful.

Kerri, the audiologist, said something really encouraging.  First, she asked Tate - when he turned his HA back on and listened with both ears - did the sounds in the CI seem louder, quieter, or the same.  He said they seemed quieter.  She nodded, and told Tate that right now his right ear (with the HA) is "teaching" his left ear how to hear.  But it won't be long before his left ear is hearing things his right ear can't hear, and his left ear is supporting his right ear.

In fact, she set the CI programs (for now) so they're NOT picking up sounds he's not hearing with the HA.  That would just confuse him.  But that will change.  :D

You know that verse I mentioned earlier?

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

I think it applies even better in the amplified version.  Goes like this:

He who has ears to hear, let him be listening and let him consider and perceive and comprehend by hearing.

Well, that sums up the process right there, doesn't it?  He needs to practice listening, consider what he's hearing, perceive the different sounds, and then comprehend!  We are so excited!

From Children's, we headed home, with a detour for lunch and a quick visit to Cabela's - Tate's equivalent of the Viking Valhalla.  By the time we got home and picked up the other boys, who spent the day with my folks, it was about time for CAP. 

I had talked with Tate while we were with Kerri about how loud and echo-y it is at CAP.  The squadron meets in the armory, which is basically a big concrete box.  Horrible acoustics, and there is a lot of yelling (not angry, just a military thing).  Kerry (dad) suggested Tate just leave the CI home, but Kerri (audie) said to wear it, just feel free to turn it down.  Even if it's really quiet, it's still stimulating the nerves.  Tate had toyed with bumping up to Program 3 (he's ambitious) but went back down to 2 for CAP.  Good plan :D

Meanwhile, I was ready to head for bed!  How can spending so much time sitting in a vehicle and sitting in appointments be tiring?  (Must be one of the mysteries of life.)  But my day wasn't done...

Kerry decided to go out to a movie with his brother, leaving me to transport the boys to/from CAP.  And my sister called to tell Gunnar that the b'day present she ordered for him had come, so we ended up spending most of the evening with her.  And - bless her heart - she fed us dinner and home-made ice cream :D

Then, when we picked up Wyatt and Tate, a bunch of the cadets had decided to go to DQ for ice cream and they really wanted to go...  all righty.  So we finally got home after 10pm, which is why you had to wait so long to find out how today went.

And now...  off to bed.

Therapy tomorrow, and back to Seattle the next day. 


Ruby said...

So pleased all is going to expectations. I hope it is all smooth sailing. Wow! God is so good. To provide the knowledge and skills needed for this young man to hear again.

dlefler said...

Oh, I've been waiting for this post! So glad to hear everything is in working order, and the long process of learning to listen with the CI has begun. I suppose the trips to Seattle will be frequent! So happy for all of you, and most especially Tate!

CDM said...

My audie did the same thing when she MAPped my processors at activation, Programs 2 and 3 with increased volume. Slowly ease the ear into the world of sounds without overwhelming the brain. At first, wearing the CI on the left and the hearing aid on the right, ugh bad combo. As soon as I put the CI on, the hearing aid sounds would drop down significantly. But it's gotten better, as if my brain's figured out how to merge both auditory inputs together. And my audie did encourage me to wear the CI as much as I can during my waking hours, turn the volume down as needed for noisy situations and such. I'm pretty excited to keep reading of Tate's progress!

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Thanks for the encouragement, all of you :D

Choate Family said...

Been praying for all of you - thanks for the update and great pics!

Felicity said...

Interesting - thanks for sharing it with us. I love how serious Tate looks in the one photo - what a great kid!!

tammy said...

How did I miss this!! I've been anxiously waiting as well! I had tears in my eyes as I read through it, I think you described it all beautifully! I am so excited to follow his new hearing journey! Congrats Tate! I am so happy for you all and what's to come!!!