Fries are done

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Clear and The Green

Is it the year, or are we destined to always have one family member with some sort of cold this year? It seems like as soon as we get over one, here comes another! Now we are all working our way through a particularly yucky throat thing, that many in our area are as well. When does the cold/flu season end? Summer? I forgot that last year we were so quarantined that we didn't have much of this at all!

We are now one week into hearing aids! Last Wednesday, we headed off for USF. Having no idea what to expect, I suppose it went pretty well. It is awfully difficult to ask a 3 year-old to sit perfectly still for so long - oh, and at the same time, don't talk too much and let us stick things in your ears that make loud noises...

Mavie and Dr. Richardson did their best to get the aids calibrated quickly. They first let us ask about a million questions...can you imagine all the little things that come to your mind when you have no frame of reference for what to ask about? how to care for? psychology of dealing with a preschooler? battery life? cost?....

It was actually pretty neat to watch. His "clear ear" (earmold color) went quickly. They play a recording of a man talking about carrots, yes carrots, and they play it at different levels. The computer generates a graph based on how his ear is responding physically to the sounds. The chart also shows his last audiogram results and the target decibels for the aids. Then they play a series of loud tones and on this ear, Dante didn't even flinch.

Then we switched to the "green ear". Maybe it was the cold he was working on, maybe it was the length of time we had been talking around him, but how easy it was on the first ear? all fell apart. I mean it wasn't terrible, but now we're battling keeping him still, the graph wasn't showing up right, so something wasn't right. He had some earwax in his ear that could have been causing it, but they figured out that the tube had been crimped that was testing. Then, when they played the loud sounds, it seemed much louder to me and Chris and Dante actually said "ow!". He said it 3 more times, so now we are quietly freaking that he will associate them with pain. Looking back it was not a big deal, but when you're in it - it feels like everything is going wrong.

In the end, we walked out of there with a pair of loaner hearing aids for 2 weeks to see how it goes...

That night, we talked him into wearing them through dinner. The next day, he showed them to Dr. P and Nonni and wore them for about 4 hours. Over the weekend, he wore them both days for the whole day! He doesn't touch them at all once they're in, but by dinner, he usually asks to take them out. He wore them to school on Monday and all went well! We totally lucked out, again. Ms. Johnson and his teacher for next year have taught (and are currently teaching) a student with hearing aids. They are completely comfortable with the whole taking them out and putting them in business. (More so than me, I think.)

We do have to admit that we thought for sure it would be like a magical cloak that he would put on and suddenly lower his volume and he'd stop banging on the table at dinnertime - no such luck. It's hard to notice a difference, since it wasn't obvious to begin with. And, of course, the week before we got them, I swear he started hearing better than ever. Maybe it was the fluid clearing up? Fluke? who knows. I do know that I haven't had as many instances of him mistaking what I'm saying. Now, if he would just listen! Oh, wait - he's 3!

This whole hearing loss is strange for us. I know we are working with professionals and they know what the testing means and what kids need to be successful. It's just a tough process to work your way through, mentally and financially, when the outcome seems so subjective? The tests are mostly based on him cooperating. (He's 3.) Everyone that meets him looks at us like we're nuts when we say he needs hearing aids. The key point that we've been told is that if he was an adult with this type of hearing loss, it wouldn't be a big deal. Since he's still forming his speech, having this type of hearing loss could cause problems with his speech and in school settings in the long run. So, we are trusting the professionals and hoping for the best.

Carina is doing great at her new friend Karlie's house a couple of days a week. She is not too happy about me leaving, but is always super happy when I arrive. She is, as always, her silly self, as seen here - trying on daddy's boxers...

I don't know why there are so many women out there straightening their hair...Carina (and Dante before her) gets SO much attention when we are out because of her hair. Every time we go to the store, some older lady accosts us. At the beach, she had 20-something men stopping to check her out...boy, are we in trouble.

Speaking of silly girls - I want to wish Madison Happy Birthday this week! :) (I know, I'm a slacker and haven't posted all those pics I promised. ) I especially like this one, because I can hear the kids saying "cheese!" Enjoy your day! Dante has been working on an art project for you...

(Dante, Megan, Madison and Carina over Christmas break.)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Gooey Fish in his ears

I want to start with letting everyone know that Carina is back to her beautiful, clear-skinned self. (This first photo was her on day 8 - already the face puffiness was less, but in person, she was still mottled.) It lasted about 5 days full intensity, and then another 3 where you could see it was fading. It took another couple of days after that for her skin to stop being super sensitive. Poor little thing - but she handled it like a trooper!

(This photo was her today - much better!)

Dante went for his audiology appointment last week. Wouldn't you know it? More fluid in his ears! We went 3.5 years with no ear infections of any kind and now it seems to be non-stop. (I spoke to an audiologist for Pinellas County Schools and she commented that she has seen children post-chemo have lots of issues with fluid in their ears. She said that it can be tough to truly diagnose the hearing problems sometimes due to the fluid.) Dr. P took a look at Dante's ears the next day and did indeed see fluid and a start of some swelling, so here we are, one week into another antibiotic. Which, for Dante means another upset stomach.

Anyways, they went ahead and made ear molds for his hearing aids. "I had gooey fish in my ears!"(All you Mickey Mouse Clubhouse fans will understand that comment.) "I don't have bugs in my ears anymore!" (I think he was referring to the small disk they insert before the "goo" to pull the whole thing out.) Chris said they had all sorts of colors available for the ear molds, but he just went with clear and a hint of green to start. Maybe then we will move on to fushscia and chartreuse... We go back in 1 week for a fitting and our first introduction to the actual hearing aids.

The chart I made for Dante's classroom must be working pretty well. He had 3 straight days where his teacher said he was wonderful! One day, he was about the only kid who didn't need a timeout. He has been helpful and following directions. (Until Wednesday...he had a particularly rough day. Chris and I both think it was due to lack of sleep and his stomach.) Today he was super happy all day. (Of course, a day with Daddy and Gomma and Dinosaur World makes it easy!) Every night before Dante goes to sleep, he has me tell him a story about going to school. He loves these stories and gets excited to hear which snack or lunch I say is that day or what the book is that is read or what Yo Gabba Gabba character is on his cot...the past 2 weeks, he has added, "You have to tell about the chart too!" I'm glad he has taken ownership. I think between the chart and the telling of his day at nighttime, those transition times should get a lot easier.

Speaking of his school, wow...How did we happen upon such a wonderful place! The director of the school called us up last week and told us that she wants their Spring fund raiser to go towards Dante's hearing aids. Chris and I don't want to take away from the school and their needs. Mrs. Bonnell is a tough negotiator. She wants Dante to be able to get his hearing aids as soon as possible. She also said that it is important for people to remember to help others and a good model for the students to see in action. She said that the school wasn't in need of anything at this time. We compromised that whatever is raised will go towards his hearing aids, unless it goes over the actual cost. Then the extra will go into equipment and supplies for the school. We have been so blessed by this community that we have trouble saying thank you enough. Thank you!

Since the purchase of the hearing aids is imminent, I have spent many evenings trolling sites that list grants and such. I don't think I found a single one that we qualify for! Most of them are designed for people with no insurance at all. Well, I would think that having insurance, but one that doesn't pay for them would be the same thing, right? Maybe I'll try that angle. I found one, the Sertoma foundation, which I will be filling out the application for this week. I did call the school board contact for Aetna. They told me the entire process for trying to convince the board to cover the cost. I can't start that process until I have the specifics of the purchase, model, etc. Once we do, we'll be moving ahead with that. Anyone have experience in this?

I'm excited about Dante's first Valentine's party at school. We got the list of all the kids in his class for their party/card exchange, so we will start making some cards this weekend. I think they are making a Valentine's breakfast - heart waffles, pancakes and candy! I totally wish I could be there. But, wait - 10 or more 3 year old kids with candy? Maybe I'm better off at work.