Tuesday, September 9, 2008

ASL Classes and Bilateral implants

This has been a busy summer, but we are getting back into the routine, and getting back to blogging. A wonderful lady was going to get together with me and my 10 year old daughter to help us learn ASL. We met once. Everyone's schedules were simply too full. But my daughter did get to go to Deaf Camp in Oregon. She had a great time and will be going back next summer for sure.

I have looked into signing her up for ASL classes, but there simply aren't any for kids. There are a few for kids and parents, but none within easy driving distance. One of the programs is willing to set up private lessons however, so we are pursuing that. Hopefully we can get those started by the end of the month.

In other news, she was finally approved to get her second implant (bilateral) on her right side. It is ossified, so we weren't sure they would ever approve the surgery. But Doctor Rubenstein is confident that he can get a good insertion using a split electrode array. We are all very excited. Insurance approval pending, but we are scheduled for her surgery in mid November.


Li-Li Mom said...

What great news K.L.! (about the bilateral approval, sorry about not so many ASL classes:( )

I've found the same thing when looking for sign classes for kids (they don't seem to exist). The ways I've managed to get ASL input for the little one don't seem widely accessible to all:
1. I've enrolled her in a day care situation normally reserved for the children of teachers at a bi-bi school for the deaf where the teachers all speak and sign and the kids are mixed hearing/deaf (lucky that they had a gap in baby production that semester)

2. We've taken advantage of the family sign course the state provided (love our former teacher, a local deaf woman who now babysits for the wee one on occasion)

3. We combined forces with another family and arranged for joint summer babysitting, hiring deaf high school kids to provide lots of ASL input

But these first 2 options evaporate in February when Li-Li turns 3, so we're also looking for some way to continue the ASL immersion.

Oh, and she just received her second implant 2 weeks ago! I was by far more nervous and apprehensive this time around because I thought she would be more aware of the discomfort now that she's 2.5, and because I knew the benefits were only incremental (but what great benefits those are!) and I feared 'jinxing' what has been a perfect first implant situation: little pain, rapid healing, great language acquisition, minimal mapping hassles, no side effects, etc. -- you know, only the good stuff, none of the scary stuff you hear about and consider when making these decisions.

I researched future technology and followed every possible lead for some less invasive surgery or newfangled biotech patent or R&D plan that might result in something more advanced within 10 years (nope, found nothing that panned out, and our surgeon has been involved in nerve cell regeneration for 12 years). And then I nearly canceled anyway. I thought: she's doing great, she's two and she's speaking sentences, she can hear chicks chirping from outside the coop, the tea kettle from across the house, talks (a little) to her grandmother on the cell phone, and answers questions posed behind her back and across the room, what more could we want? Well, she's pretty much silent in groups, there will be school, noisy classrooms, loud crowds ... she can't reliably hear us in restaurants... but what if ...

That trade-off of better hearing in classrooms, where she'll spend much of her childhood (in restaurants, too, given my cooking skills) vs. surgery and all that entails (ugh) -- what a scary place to be in! It was a much easier call the first time when the benefits are so much easier to quantify and document.

But ... we did it. And you know, it was so very much easier all around this time: no unknowns in the hospital (I knew enough to just relax (well, sort of) and trust the CI team, to let the hours pass, and prepare myself to be at my best with her afterwards instead of agonizing through every moment. Instead of my baby crying in the night while I negotiated with the nurse whether or not we ought to give her more painkiller, we went with the nerve block at surgery and were more aggressive in managing potential pain after (I wasn't tentative about asking for medicine the moment she seemed uncomfortable this time). Li-Li and I made a slumber party of it and stayed up nearly all night in the hospital watching her favorite videos and eating ices.

I knew what to expect once home, what was normal, what was not. The week after, although we kept her to low activity (the trampoline was out of bounds, despite her many requests!), we kept moving, I took off work and we ran errands, took little day trips, spent the long weekend at the beach with friends, etc., so she didn't have any time to get bored and fuss with her incision.

And now, what a relief it is to know that hard part is done and all that's left is the fun part: the excitement of expanding a new sense, learning to hear even more broadly, and using new parts of the brain in a brand new way once more.

Just think, you have this all down already, and then ... you are going to have such a wonderful Thanksgiving, K.L.!

jennifer c said...


jennifer c said...

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jennifer c said...

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