Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Activation Day: Redux
Rich and I assumed that Ethan’s 2nd implant activation would likely be very similar to his first implant, that it would be anti-climactic and even a little uneventful. We decided that Rich would stay home and work and Misha would go with us to the appointment.
First our audiologist (Lisa) put the magnet and earpiece on Ethan’s new side. He tore it off immediately! I think we got him to settle down by breaking out the cookies as all the toys we presented were just emphatically hurled to the floor. Within a few minutes Lisa powered up the equipment.
Ethan had no response to activation last year. In fact, it was 4 long weeks before he seemed to notice any sounds in his environment. His brain had never heard or interpreted auditory information, so we waited patiently for the neural pathways to do their job.
This time he started crying upon stimulation. It was one of those heart-wrenching cries when they sort of hyperventilate and moan simultaneously. He cried real tears, something I’ve only seen a handful of times in his life. I have to say that it was really tough for me (and Misha) to remain calm and collected. I wanted to shout, “Stop right now!” “Turn it off, he’s in pain!”
But Lisa assured us (and I trust her completely) that she wasn’t doing anything that could be painful, he was probably just shocked and afraid. That processor has come off and been put back in place about 15 times since then and he has consistently had the same reaction. Fortunately it's short lived as long as we have a distraction in place. Elmo can take him from screams to smiles in just under 5 seconds. He’ll then go about business as usual until that magnet falls off and has to be put in place again. That’s a pretty clear indicator that his reaction is based on fear and confusion, or just plain irritation, rather than pain.
Lisa has said that older kids who go bilateral complain about their new “ear” in the beginning. There is a definite adjustment period and they have to be patient because the new ear will take months of mapping sessions and trainings to catch up with the first ear. This can’t be reasoned with a 2 year old however.
It’s going to be quite an adventure I think.