Friday, July 27
Saturday, July 21
In the last 23 days the loud, screeching sounds that Drew made before his cochlear implants have completely disappeared. Now our home is filled with beautiful "singing" and blissful laughter! It is so pleasing to our ears. He will sit on the floor for half an hour singing. I think that he can hear himself doing it, so he is getting used to his voice. It is so much fun to just sit and listen to the little noises he is making.
Drew is even mimicking sounds that we make, such as "ahhhh", "mmmm" and even raspberries. Whenever he is sitting on the floor not looking at me, I will make the raspberry sound and he will mimic it and turn in the direction he heard the sound coming from. He'll give me a cute little grin, as if to say, "Yeah, Mom. I heard you!" It is truly amazing! Whenever he is eating, we narrate the whole experience. It goes something like this:
Daddy: "OK, Drew. Open your mouth. It's time to eat some bananas!"
Drew: Opens mouth as wide as he can and sucks every bit of banana off the spoon. (He's a hungry and growing boy!)
Daddy, rubbing his belly: "Oh, Drew. Banana's are yummy. Yummy, mmmmm."
Drew: "Mmm, mmm"
We are enjoying each and every day with him - and his sister. When Drew's Sister was born two years ago, I don't think we took the things that she did in developing language for granted, but I know that we did not have an appreciation for how children learn to communicate through hearing. When Drew was born with profound hearing loss it gave us a great understanding of this amazing process and for that I am forever grateful. Now everything that both of our children do in developing their communication is truly special. Just yesterday, Drew's Sister (who is two years, three months old) broke out the "Why?" question. Drew's Dad and I have heard it about one hundred times since then and we will continue to hear it for years to come. And even though it can be irritating to hear, we are just so thankful that she is able communicate with us!
Monday, July 16
Here is Drew hearing the "Lings":
We were excited to see that Drew clearly responded to most of them and seemed to respond to the others when the sounds were made at close range. We will keep moving farther and farther away to monitor how well he is hearing, but this is a great start!
Wednesday, July 11
Drew had his first Auditory Verbal Therapy (AVT) on Monday morning. He did great! I haven't been able to read the full report, but according the the therapist and Grandma, he was able to detect a good amount of the ling sounds at close range, with his right ear performing just a bit better than his left. The therapist even said that she saw a huge difference in him, a bilateral kid, than what she initially sees in children with just one implant. Drew is already able to localize many sounds. This never would have been possible without bilateral implants.
Drew also had his second mapping this week. By all accounts, from the audiologist, Grandma and his teacher of the Deaf (who attended the appointment), Drew did great! I haven't seen the full report yet, but they were able to correctly program more electrodes in each ear and turn up the volume quite significantly. He left the appointment again with four new maps, which we will turn up gradually over the coming weeks. Drew's next mapping is scheduled for July 26th.
Later on Tuesday, Drew's Dad reported that Drew heard the "snapping" noise the fasteners make in his high chair when he was getting Drew ready to eat dinner. Just amazing! He is hearing new sounds everyday, responding to those sounds and is overall a very happy little boy.
One of Drew's therapists emailed me his therapy plan for the coming months. In the immediate future Drew will be able to identify the presence of sound, absence of sound and all of the ling sounds at close range, 3 feet and 6 feet away. This seems very reasonable and attainable, especially considering that Drew hasn't even been hearing for two weeks and has already made noticeable progress. I continued to read: Drew will respond to his name, wave "good bye" without visual cutes, meaningfully say "Mama" and "Dada". Can you believe it? My deaf little boy is going to be able to call me "Mama". What a wonderful world we live in!
Saturday, July 7
Notice the pockets that have been sewn on Drew's clothing to hold his BWP's. They are very cute and are easy to access in case his processors are not working properly.
This week of hearing has been so exciting! To see him respond to sound just brings a huge smile to my face and tears to my eyes. I was able to keep Drew awake while riding in the car. I didn't want him to fall asleep until we got home - and it worked! Every time I would yell, "Drew", he would open his eyes. Can you believe it? He will turn his head in the DIRECTION of knocking sounds we make while sitting at the kitchen table. He will turn his head and look in the DIRECTION he hears sounds coming from, be it our voices, the TV or one of his sisters noisy toys. It is completely amazing and would never have been possible without the wonderful technology of cochlear implants. What a wonderful journey we are on!
Happy Birthday, America! And Happy Hearing, Drew!
Thursday, July 5
The total "Provider Charges" were a whopping $155,232.71! However, because our insurance company Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield evidently "gets it" regarding how important bilateral cochlear implants can be for a child (or adult), the total out-of-pocket cost to us is only $1,170.15.
As I constantly "meet" people from Spain, Sweeden, California, South America, and all over who are dealing with hearing loss, hearing aids or cochlear implants, one thing is clear. That is the fact that whether one has insurance that will cover their chosen "plan of attack" directly impacts how successful that plan will be.
We are the fortunate ones. Our insurance company (Anthem of Virginia) gave phone approval in under five minutes for a procedure that some families never get. (I'd like to thank those who have decided to cover this procedure, as it truly makes a difference for Drew. I'll never meet you, but if you happen to see this please know we feel you have done a great service to your customers.)
Some insurance companies (now the minority) don't cover cochlear implants at all. Other insurance companies claim that a second cochlear implant is experimental or not medically necessary, despite growing evidence that they do benefit the users.
Because most of us can't quite find it in the budget to write a check for $155,000, not obtaining insurance approval means that they won't be able to take advantage of the cochlear implant technology. Families often fight for months or years to get insurance approval, while precious weeks roll away. These vanishing months quickly close the window of time during which a young child can grasp the foundations of language, with it often closing before the appeals, court arguments and battles have concluded.
Make sure this does not happen to your child. If you have decided that a cochlear implant is best for your son or daughter, I want you to do two things:
#1 - Start the insurance approval process immediately. Don't wait. Don't assume. Request a copy of what is covered by your policy. Politely demand that your chosen surgeon or audiology team contact your insurance company right away for approval.
#2 - If you are having difficulty, contact the Let Them Hear Foundation. They help families battle insurance companies that deny cochlear implants (or a second implant) to those who need them. Perhaps you should contact them even if you don't foresee trouble, just to take advantage of their educational resources.
We are going to send our approval letter and explanation of benefits to the Let Them Hear Foundation so they can demonstrate to the other insurance companies that bilateral, simultaneous cochlear implants are being covered. I hope that in this way we will be able to help others "Turn on their ears".
Sunday, July 1
Or maybe he won't have to wear these the rest of his life? Check out this article.