Kirsten K. faced a scary start to Graham’s life after he spent the first couple of weeks in the NICU. An initial failed newborn hearing screening was the least of her worries but once further testing was performed, Graham was diagnosed as severe-to-profoundly hearing impaired from nerve-related hearing loss. Kirsten looked into cochlear implants after Graham was not benefiting from hearing aids. See why Kirsten chose the Cochlear Family:
“Graham was 12 days old when we were discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after having been there since the day he was born. As we were preparing to leave, the hospital was going through his discharge instructions and I remember being so nervous to take home a pre-term baby, especially one who had fought for his life in the first few hours of it.
The nurse then reviewed the newborn hearing screening results that they had conducted on him the night before. I distinctly remember him saying that Graham had not passed the screening, but not to think twice about it because it happens all too often with premature babies. He had us schedule a follow-up visit for a few weeks later, and I tucked all thoughts of the testing out of my mind to focus on our sweet baby. Little did we know then, we were going to become a part of the Cochlear Family.
Fast forward to the follow-up testing. We conducted all of the extensive hearing testing for several hours at the hospital; still I continued to feel at peace and was not worried that we would get a poor outcome from the testing. The audiologist completed everything, went to put together the outcomes and then came back into the booth to consult with us. I could tell that she was almost choking on the words as she held the audiogram out and told us that the testing revealed that Graham was severe-to-profoundly hearing impaired.
His hearing loss was due to auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (ANSD), which is a combination of fancy words for nerve-related hearing loss. This type of hearing loss would be very unpredictable, unruly and one that would be hard to predict. She immediately started advising us to get in contact with the local schools for the deaf in our area to find a good fit and get them working with Graham immediately; she also told us that he should be quickly fitted with hearing aids.
Feelings of hope and gratitude
I remember not being sad, shocked or overwhelmed at the news; but I just remember being surprised that we had three schools for the deaf within miles of our home. It was a moment of thinking that without any shred of doubt, I knew that Graham was going to be just fine. He was going to learn to listen, talk and then grow and learn and challenge the world just like his hearing sisters and his peers.
My son would by no means have an easy road, or one without challenges, far from it. However, I was grateful he was leaving the hospital with us with an amazing chance at a wonderful sound-filled life, one that we were already committed to providing to him, no matter what it took.
We were in contact with all of the schools that afternoon, and soon took tours of all of them to get a feel for their philosophies on deaf education. We realized we were joining a larger family than we had ever imagined.
Graham received hearing aids immediately after testing and started at his school for the deaf around 2 months old; his care team truly hit the ground running. He was tested every month, followed closely by an amazing audiologist and worked regularly with his fantastic teacher who helped him get familiar with what sound quality he had. He was learning social skills and developing as a typical little boy would (outside of speech and language), but his hearing was inconsistent, even non-existent at times.
It was frustrating and disheartening, but we powered on. He was a trooper in the testing booth, giving them his best, when he really should not have had the stamina as a little guy to do so. It almost felt like he knew he needed to give us the best picture possible to make the right decisions for him. As we neared his first birthday, the discussions became more and more focused on the fact that without cochlear implantation, Graham’s hearing and speech quality would not allow him to develop and speak normally. Our dreams of having him seamlessly enter mainstream school and speak fluently enough would not be a reality without cochlear implant intervention.
Researching cochlear implant solutions
We began to research the various cochlear implant companies and met with two representatives from Cochlear. The new Nucleus® 7 Sound Processor had just been announced days earlier, and they were preparing for widespread release.
We were wowed by how great the new technology would be for Graham and how great the support from Cochlear would be for him and our family. The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor’s integration with Apple®* would seamlessly make his implants a part of the technology our family was already so accustomed to, making it an easy fit for our family.
It was nice to know too that even though Graham would be implanted at such a young age, he would always have access to the latest Cochlear technology available as he grows and changes along his hearing journey.
Graham’s surgery for implantation was in September 2017 at 13 months old. We were nervous wrecks through his bilateral surgery, but we knew what was awaiting us on the other side. Graham was activated the next month and was quickly hearing new things around him. He soon began babbling new sounds and hearing the world around him seemingly without a hitch.
Loving life in the Cochlear Family
Life in the Cochlear Family is off to a wonderful start for us. We have already been impressed with how durable the processors have been, withstanding the trials and tribulations of a very busy toddler who is adjusting to life with new hearing devices.
It has really been an easy transition to life with Cochlear Implants, one quite amazingly brought to us by Cochlear and their incredible technology. I am so thankful and excited to be along on this journey with our son, and I cannot wait to see what our adventures bring!”
Are you searching for a hearing solution for your child born with severe-to-profound hearing loss? Learn more about Cochlear Implants at IWantYouToHear.com.
Read Shane’s blog on Hear & Now to learn more about Cochlear’s ability for future technology upgrades.