the gift of hearing

Mikisa got her hearing aids this week.   her little ears will be permanently adorned with computerized amplification devices powered by tiny batteries.  we are just now testing the waters and learning all that is involved with the care and upkeep of these hearing aids.  it is intense!  we have to check the batteries every day, and they die within 10 to 14 days.  [i guess we’ll be going through a lot of batteries].  we also have to do a test “listen” every morning before putting the hearing aids in.  then, at night, we have to clean and dry the earmolds.  she will outgrow them in about 3 months so we’ll have to go back in to the audiologist and have her fitted for new ones.  during the summer, the hearing aids need to be stored in a special “dry box” over night to take the moisture out of them.  so yeah…we’re talking about a very involved process.  but it’s incredible because these hearing aids allows Mikisa the gift of experiencing a whole new world of clearer sounds and better communication.

but she isn’t quite on board with these little hearing aids.  not just yet.  when the audiologist first put them in, Mikisa said “ow” and then started sobbing and trying to pull them out.  then she left them in, but wouldn’t take her thumb out of her mouth and started rocking and retreating into her little world.  i am sure that it is confusing for her to suddenly hear all these new sounds and to try to make sense of words that sounded so completely different without the amplification.  imagine spending 6 years hearing everything as if you were underwater.  she’s never heard high frequency sounds like “s” “f” “ch” “sh” and all word endings are muted.  i heard a simulation of what her hearing is, and it’s bad.  it’s very overwhelming and hard to distinguish one word from another.  no wonder she has struggled so much with communication and learning to talk.  wow.  it’s actually amazing that she understands as much as she does.

it’s not a quick fix though.  the new sounds are overwhelming and confusing for her.  so while we are seeing tremendous progress with her speech in just a few short days with the hearing aids, we are also seeing an increase in negative behaviors and a significant lack of impulse control.  she is struggling badly with transitions…lots of screaming, hitting and biting going on throughout the day.  i’m sure it doesn’t help that she has pneumonia and her sleep schedule is totally wacked out thanks to our 5-hour stay to the emergency room the other night.  oh, and she’s still adjusting to her new medication.  so yeah.  her world has [once again] been flipped upside down.

we are thankful that she has access to such great medical care.  with all of this equipment; her walker, wheelchair, cane, ankle brace, shoe lift, knee immobilizer, wrist splint, and now hearing aids, she sure is decked out!  and these “accessories”, combined with regular therapy, medication and lots of love, are helping her live life more fully and experience the world around her in a whole new, more meaningful way.

10 responses to “the gift of hearing

  1. So many changes for her! Positive ones, but I can’t imagine all that she and you are going through. I still can’t wait to meet her when it is an appropriate time!

    • Karen, we would love to see you! Are you around Monday or Tuesday? They’re teacher workdays so we could come visit. Let me know:)

  2. Oh, could you come Monday afternoon or anytime Tuesday! The AU team will be at a training on Monday morning. I would love to see you guys.

  3. Wow, I am sure it is strange to hear after not being able to hear well for such a long time. One of my good friends here is a deaf educator (and also has a sweet hearing impaired foster daughter) and I’m sure she would be happy to chat via email if you ever have questions!

  4. As I read this post, all I could think was what an amazing little girl Mikisa is and what an incredible person she is becoming. She is learning to overcome more on a daily basis than many people do in a lifetime. She will emerge as an incredibly strong, compassionate, multifaceted, unstoppable woman. God bless you all on this difficult but incredible journey!
    Aunt Becky

  5. Many years ago, it was discovered that my older brother was rendered profoundly hearing impaired due to blockages in both canals. At age 5, he had life altering surgery. After the operations, he had to learn to “hear” and process sounds so that he could attach meaning to them.
    Today, my brother is a music teacher, a card-carrying musician, composer, and a pastor. I would think he would say that it was well worth it!
    My best to you and your lovely daughter!

  6. Dear Christina

    I’ve been following your journey, it’s been inspiring and amazing. God is so great! It’s also been sad to find out all of Mikisa’s challenges and I’m really sorry to hear about everything. But like you said, praise God for the first world care you’re able to give her! I’m writing because I can relate to Mikisa’s hearing loss, I gradually started losing my hearing when I was 5 years old after an illness (I’m 28 now). Luckily I could speak by the time my hearing loss began. I also couldn’t hear high frequency sounds, though, and learnt in speech therapy how to position my tongue etc to make sounds such as s, ch, sh. Mikisa will learn with time, all you need is patience, lots and lots of patience. Practice her speech therapy lessons wherever and whenever you can. As for the negative behavior, that’s probably due to high levels of frustration. It could be helpful to let her release some negative energy by letting her hit a drum or do something similar? It’s such a steep learning curve for you and your husband, but it sounds like you have the love and faith to see you through it. Keep at it 🙂

  7. Oh, I also wanted to add, this initial time of hearing is massively scary. I got a cochlear implant when I was 21 and it completely shook my up when the device was switched on. I was so shocked, I couldn’t stop crying for the entire first day. And I hated the sounds for about the first 2 weeks. My parents and family were amazing though, they just gave me space and time to get used to it and encouraged me to stick it out. Where Mikisa probably doesn’t understand that it will get better with time, try to give her space to quietly play or just sit and listen, she’ll get used to it.

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