Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Activation Day: Redux

(with Misha at the zoo)

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.


slouching mom said...

Wow. I'd never thought about it, but of course he'd be frightened, poor boy.

But on the up side, doesn't that mean it must be making a huge difference?

Hang in, sweet Ethan!

Hetha said...

Yes! That is a huge upside, isn't it? It's very clear that he is going to be hearing well with his new ear.

Last night at the hotel room, Misha and I noticed that he was looking to his left for the new things he was hearing. We were totally blown away to see him begin to make sense of his new hearing.

jen said...

an adventure indeed. and how exciting.

and i am impressed that he's only cried real tears a handful of times. that's good mama-ing.

Kyla said...

Can you imagine how overwhelming it would be to suddenly hear everything? We have learned to filter so much out, but he hasn't yet. He hears it all and doesn't know what to do with it all, I'm sure.

But he is hearing! And it will get easier for him. This will be an adventure with a happy resolution.

Laurie said...

Thank you for Ethan's update. I can only imagine what he must be thinking and feeling. His world as he know it is so much smaller than ours. And the "unknown" can be a little scary. . . I can only imagine what he must be going through. And you. It will get better!

Happy Thanksgiving!

flutter said...

Oh sweet boy. I can't even begin to imagine hearing and having the world be so different for the very first time.

I think you are just going to see him blossom like gangbusters. Go Ethan!

Jennifer said...

I have thought of him so much...waited for an update Tuesday...and was so excited to see this last night (but too busy to comment at the time).
I hope that he's doing better today...he (and you) have been on my mind more than you know. I know when I had my first CI activated I had a strong vibrotactile response--vibrations--that didn't hurt, but were jarring. I always had to set my sensitivity on the lowest setting and gradually turn it up, to reduce the shock! With Ethan being sensitive anyway, I'm sure it's just really wearing on him.
I can't believe that he's looking in the direction of the sound! I haven't done well with my two together yet...and I'm not sure I could tell direction if I had to...yet...but it'll come :).
I hate that the actual turn on was so heartbreaking...I know that had to be extremely difficult. I know in the long run it will be worth it (I've lived it) but when it's your child, it has to hurt :( Big hugs for you (((HUGS))). I can't wait to hear more updates.
And I love the picture...he's such an incredibly cute little man!!!

Nicky said...

Little man, I hate to think of him upset :(

I read this post yesterday and it's been on my mind since. It reminded me of Tom's second ear activation. With number one he was fine and a bit like Ethan - there was no imediate reaction. With his second he did get upset during the activation and spent alot of time on my knee consoling himself on raisins and chocolate. The coil kept falling off and for the first few months and I started wondering if we had done the right thing. When his first processor fell off he wanted it straight back on but with his second he really didn't seem to care if it wasn't switched on.

That was over a year ago, by Spring of this year I noticed that he liked both equally.

It's great that he is turning to sounds he hears through his left ear. Like you say it's an adventure, and sounds like it's going to be rewarding adventure.

Kellan said...

Oh, and Hetha, I feel like I am living the adventure with you. I love feeling as though I am right there with Ethan as he begins to HEAR the world! This is such a blessing and sounds as though it is going as well as expected - I am so glad for him and you! Take care. Kellan

KC said...

Wow- it's so exciting! I'm sure a little new and scary for him but wow - this is a new world.

p.s. loving PR...have not missed it!

Eileen said...

I have been thinking so much about Ethan, but have not been able to get on the internet down here in DC. I read your post, and was so happy and excited for you all. It is clear he is hearing and trying to make sense out of it all. Good things are ahead, I just know it. Many, many blessings to you all!!

Sarah said...

Oh wow! I can't imagine what that must be like for a little one to suddenly start hearing.

Thinking of Ethan.

Beck said...

It WILL be an adventure. Poor Ethan right now, though - it would be scary.
The brownies were at my food blog:

Kellan said...

Hi Hetha - How is Ethan doing? I hope he's adjusting to his new ear!

We went out dancing Friday night with some friends - country dancing - it was nice and we needed a little time without kids - thanks for asking. Take care. Kellan

Loudest Mom on the Block said...

I am so glad he is hearing 'something' already! That is great. Emily had the exact same reaction with her first implant- she cried, and wanted it off- She kept saying "ow", but it really shouldn't have been hurting, necessarily. I think it just feels and sounds 'weird', and it scares them. It didn't take too long to get passed that point, but she was a bit older. This time around (at age 7), she was a champ, which again makes me think it is because they are scared, and you just can't explain it to them like you want.

I'll be excited to see how great Ethan does over the next month or so!!!