A change in directionPublished Date: 13 Oct 2022
As the nights draw in, Bake Off is back, the slippers come out (yes, I’m that age now!), and we start to enter a new season for our family. We have four-year-old Isabelle (bilaterally implanted) who has just started ‘big school', loving life and coming home with excellent tales such as, “I was a butterfly today!” and “There was ice cream for pudding!”. We then have our gorgeous boy, 10-month-old Jack, a hearing aid user who has just completed the referral process for cochlear implants.
This first involved an MRI to check if the structure of his ears were suitable for implantation. Then followed a series of behavioural hearing tests to assess whether his levels met the criteria as his auditory brainstem response (ABR) test had suggested in his first few weeks.
We assumed Jack would follow in his sister’s footsteps when we learnt of his hearing loss, and we’ve been mentally preparing ourselves for surgery in the next few months. Except, to our great surprise, we’ve had a change in direction. As it turns out, Jack’s doing exceptionally well with his hearing aids on one side, too well in fact to be a candidate for implants. His other ear, despite not meeting the levels we would like, still exceeds our initial expectations.
My reaction to this news was mixed. On the one hand, we didn’t have to put Jack through an operation. On the other hand, I was concerned he wouldn’t have the opportunity to match his sister’s bilateral success. Though having shared these worries with professionals since, I feel reassured that with the right support in place and a little hard work he’ll be just fine.
So, what now? We have one of each! With no two-year implantation pathway ahead, we just live our lives, enjoy these children and try and get sleep where we can! Now Isabelle’s at school, I have more time to focus on Jack, and it’s quite clear he hears far more than his sister did at that age with her aids. It’s baffling to me that he has started to understand some words verbally without the supporting sign. It’s a different experience as a parent entirely. He’ll continue to have weekly speech and listening sessions (as Isabelle did) as well as signing classes, and for now that’s him set.
In some respects, hearing aids are a lot easier to manage. The batteries only need changing every few weeks as opposed to daily. There’s not so many parts, and they don’t fall off so easily. I don’t need to worry quite so much about knocks to the head. Although we’ll have a lot of mould impression appointments, I’m looking forward to the day he decides not to use them as a chew toy! Between that and stealing the remote control at every opportunity, this boy likes to keep me on my toes! And of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way.