Monday, May 18, 2009

Two Ears to Hear!

Chris and I have been spending a lot of time at doctor appointments for Emma.  We are trying to get her a second CI while she is still young, her brain is plastic, and will get the most benefit from it.  Our reasoning is we plan for her to have both ears hearing with a CI, so why not get the second one sooner rather than later.  Now that we've become better at keeping one CI on her head, we feel we are ready to take the plunge to get the second.  The thing about CIs, though, is that two is not necessarily standard.  There are a team of people that determine if Emma is a candidate or not.  We've met with Emma's surgeons and found out that the team has agreed to a second CI for Emma!  She'll have two ears to hear!  We'll get a surgery date after insurance is approved and the surgeons have settled on their schedule for the summer.  I'm sure Emma isn't anxiously anticipating the surgery as much as we are, which means she isn't possibly as nervous as we are about another surgery.  The fact that she is still too young to understand is quite nice in that we don't have to worry too much about her anxiety over the surgery.

The second CI will give Emma better hearing in noisy environments (i.e., school, parties, outdoors, anywhere other kids are!, etc.), should help her to acquire language easier,  will help her localize sound better, and give her a back-up should one CI fail.  The second CI will also come with more equipment to maintain, a bit higher risk of meningitis since there are two pathways to her brain (she does have her vaccination up to date), another surgery, and the reality that we are not *saving* an ear for future technology.  We've talked to several parents and children who are bilateral CI users and they say if they could do it over they would implant the second ear sooner.  We have not heard any regrets.  And, let's face it, Emma has her fair share of challenges so anything that could make her communication easier is a good thing.  

We have been very happy with Emma's progress with her CI so far.  She is lagging behind others that are deaf without other challenges from the blogs I've sampled.  I've decided to stop sampling them, though, as it doesn't do us much good.  She makes many vowel sounds and says some consonants and is starting to look towards the proper toy when the associated sound is made.  This is GREAT progress for her.  

That said, I'm a little concerned lately about her responsiveness to sound.  She used to be spot on when we called her name or made noise and she would turn to it.  Lately, she is showing less of a response and I'm wondering if she is hearing us or if it is just a 19 month old tuning us out.  It's hard to tell with Emma as her motor skills make it difficult to "condition" her where she would drop blocks or do some other activity when she hears sounds.  We go mostly on her facial expressions.  Our AV therapist and Audiologist are going to discuss this recent set of events and determine how we want to proceed forward.  One options is to check Emma's last map to see if the response is the same as previously.  This would be easy since we have a spare set of equipment that we can swap out and test it while still maintaing her existing maps.  I am going to keep good notes on Emma's responses to sound to see if we can get a bit more insight into this.  If anyone out there has any suggestions for me on this recent challenge, please share a comment.  I'm open to ideas!

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