Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Fancy Moulds

For five years, we have been taking moulds for Isobel's Hearing Aid. This is the latex part that gets inserted into her ear so the sound is directed straight into her ear. Her moulds have always been pinky clear in colour, we had no idea there was anything different.

This all changed today, at Isobel's last hearing test, it was noted that her hearing had deteriorated a little and the Resound Aid wasn't working as well as it could be. It was therefore decided, that she should get a new HA and while we were at it new moulds. Being used to having the imprints done, she sat patiently while the moulding agent was pumped into her ear and set. Then the fun began, She was then handed a book and asked, "What colour mould would you like?" It was then the world of coloured, glittered, animal patterned moulds was opened up to us. The choice was unbelievable! After what felt like ages to the rest of us, Isobel decided on two different styles.

Today, we were back at Dorchester Audiology to collect her new HA and more importantly her new moulds. As you can see she has chosen some colourful ones.

Her new HA is a Phonak Nathos S+. It is a more powerful HA with something called SoundRecover technology.  SoundRecover is a technology that gradually applies some shifting and lowering to just the highest frequencies in order to move them to a space where those sounds may be more audible. Simply put, it will make her hearing better. So looking great and hearing great!!!!!

Since being back in the UK, we have become members of the Dorset Deaf Children's Society. They have provided Isobel some great opportunites for us all to meet with other families with deaf/hard of hearing children. We have been fortunate enough to go on day trips and gatherings completely free of charge. It has been brilliant for Isobel to connect with other children 'like her'.

Last weekend, Isobel and Daddy went away for the weekend to PGL at Osmington Bay with the DDCS and had a fabulous time:

Daddy and I went to PGL for the weekend, I had a wonderful time. I loved the activities, which were climbing, archery, zip wire, Jacob's ladder and the giant swing. We had lots of nice food and made friends with Lexi and Nathan. Lexi and I played together a lot and we did all of our activities together. Lexi was deaf too. My favourite thing to do was the giant swing and archery. I can't believe I scored gold on my first time at achery. By Isobel

Saturday, 21 May 2016

The End of an Era

It's been over two years since my last post. The CI mapping and HA programming were set up, all was as it should be, we settled into our new 'normal' life - no real updates on the hearing front.

There have however, been other changes in our lives. September saw us relocate to the south coast of our home country, England. The girls are loving living in England, all they could possibly want on tap, plus doting grandparents. They settled quickly into school and Isobel moved up to the correct school grade for her age (skipping Year 2) and is doing well.

Moving back to England meant saying goodbye to the private health system we had 'enjoyed' in Korea and starting Isobel's care with the NHS. It was a rocky start with difficulties getting the referral for the Audiological Implant Service (AIS) at Southampton University and the Audiology department at the local hospital, (they deal with each ear individually). But now we have them we're making good progress. The best of course is not having to pay for cables or batteries.

This week, we travelled to the AIS at Southampton, I must confess I was a little nervous. Not sure why, I just wanted the computer at the AIS to be able to read the mapping and know the mapping was good and that they agreed with everything that we had done so far.

I needn't have worried, Isobel was marvellous! She upgraded to a d-coil and was able to hear sounds as low as 25 decibels. She 'performed' very well in all the tests she was asked to do, the doctor said she was fantastic! The computer read the map and the internal parts are working great too. So good to know that everything is working well.

There has also been a cosmetic change. Any of you who have followed from the beginning would have seen the headband contraption I created to keep Isobel's CI and HA on her head. She has worn a variation of this everyday since she got her hearing aids. Well, this is no more, she is a 'big' girl now and wears her CI and HA over her ear. We were all a bit nervous about it falling off so the audiologist gave us a funny tube thing call 'active wear'. So far so good, it's doing it's job. Isobel will show you...

This may seem like such a small thing, but for her (and me) it is huge! something about always having her hair pulled off her face made her look younger, now I feel like she looks so much older. She sure is growing up fast!

We're off for a follow up for the HA ear in a couple of weeks, there maybe more changes afoot.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

A Busy Afternoon

Finding your way around a hospital can be difficult, when all the the signs and directions are in Korean, the challenge increases. We learn things quickly though, pick up 'landmarks' along the way. Go down one floor at the first set of stairs, turn right down the hall decorated with bronzed fist impressions of Cancer survivors. At the end turn left and follow the corridor as it loops around until you reach the Audiology department. It has been a while since we last walked that route, but, we have it memorised, we found our way.

The route was the same, the little girl we walked it with however, wasn't. We walked those halls with a skipping, chattering little girl whose highlight was belting out 'Let It Go' as we entered the waiting area for the hearing test.

We had four back-to-back appointments yesterday afternoon. Mapping and a discussion with our audiologist was first. Isobel's CI needed a little tweaking, it was so much easier this time around not only because Isobel understood what was happening, but she had the vocabulary to really explain. She described the sounds as 'too loud, too soft, a little bit quiet, medium, OK, quiet, very noisy.' 

A proud moment!

Next we went into the sound booth for the hearing tests. First Hearing aid only, then CI only and then right ear unaided.
Right Ear Hearing Aid (Red) and Left Ear CI (Blue) and Right Ear Unaided respectively
What the diagram on the left shows is with her devices, Isobel is only suffering a mild hearing loss and can access all the sounds within the speech banana. It shows that her CI and HA are balanced and working well together so there is no need to implant the right ear at this point - Hooray.

Looking at the diagram on the right shows that she is clearly still very deaf, but on the up side, no deafer than when this journey started. Therefore her hearing is stable, which is a great thing.

Next up was tweaking with the hearing aid program, so everything is working tip-top!

Our last appointment was with the Professor. He was very impressed with Isobel's speech development, the results of the hearing test and how her ear looked inside. He finished our visit by stating that he thought 'Isobel would have no problems integrating into society with her peers'! 

Fantastic news!

We finished off the 'trip' with, as far as Isobel was concerned, the most important part. Chocolate milk and a muffin from Dunkin Donuts.

All in all, a busy (but well worth it) afternoon!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2 years on...

Happy New Year!

It's been just over two years since Isobel was diagnosed with her hearing loss. Two years since we began this journey to help her hear, understand what she hears and speak with clear, understandable speech.

When I look back to beginning of this blog (when the posts were frequent) I am amazed at just how far we have come. This time two years ago I was standing at the back of the room saying ooo, ah, sh and so on and she would put a cube in a bucket when she heard the sound and then repeat it back.

It feels so far away from the little girl that now chatters with her sister, or sings at the top of her voice, or tells her parents off when things don't go her way.

All is going well, we work through the games and activities and Nick invents more along the way. Isobel's speech is improving dramatically, new phrases, sentences and vocabulary everyday. Her speech is not always perfect, she can be 'sloppy' but she is also self correcting and correcting by imitation very well. We still have a long way to go, we are pushing for her to catch up with her peers, and to be consistently understood, especially by people who don't talk to her very often.

We had a great Christmas, we visited Mickey and his friends again. This time we were lucky enough to bump into Tinkerbell, along with many of the Princesses. As you see, lipstick marks to prove it. This time it was Estella in awe of the Princesses, she seemed to lose her tongue and couldn't answer any of the questions. Fortunately, Isobel was on hand to help her out by filling in the blanks.

She recovered quickly however, when the opportunity to goof around presented itself! It seems all photographs must now be accompanied by this mouth pulling, tongue stuck out version. The humour of children!

And so we settle into the post Christmas and New Year celebration routine of school, clubs and therapy. Of Course, I can't forget that someone has a birthday just around the corner!

These girls are growing up fast, and still loving their story time with Daddy. This time though, they are telling the story.

Let's hope that 2014 has the same great impact on Isobel Ears as 2013 has.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

A Year (and a bit) of Bionic Hearing

So, It has been a whole year (and a bit) now since Isobel had her implant and was switched on! What a difference it has made to our lives. We were told today by her therapist that she has almost completed all of her auditory goals. That means that she has almost finished 'learning to listen' and will be 'listening to learn'. Amazing!

This doesn't mean that's the end of AVT, not by a long shot! We still have quite a way to go with speech and language development. Naturally these are the more challenging to develop, however, like the trooper she is, she is doing well here also.

We had parent-teacher conferences at her school this week, as always, a little nerve wracking. I'm not sure I'll ever get used to being on the other side of those. I needn't have worried though, the teachers had great things to say...

'... I love her enthusiasm...'
'... her strengths are in phonics...'
'... I forget she's deaf...'
'... she's so caring...'
'... she follows the routines well...'

A far cry from the angry, clingy, anti-social little girl beginning school 2 years ago.

Both girls enjoy reading and especially love story time with Daddy. It's quite an interactive experience, with Isobel listening and repeating. Of course Estella won't be left out of the mix and likes to join in the 'therapy'.

Not too shabby at maths either,

Until next time...

Thursday, 6 June 2013

The Journey So Far

With the end of the school year rapidly approaching, I have been doing a lot of reflecting.

I have been looking through old photographs and getting very nostalgic. Whilst looking at pictures of Isobel before she was diagnosed, I noticed there are so few of her really smiling. 

The guilt of not realising she was deaf still gets to me, thinking she was just a naughty, angry child. The sadness of finding out she was deaf, my perfect little baby girl was maybe not so perfect. The challenges we went through, fitting hearing aids, putting her through surgery, second guessing our decisions so many times it was fifth or sixth guessing. Advocating for her with friends, teachers and doctors. Making sure we were in the right place, with the right team, to give her the best chance that she could possibly have.

This journey we are on is tough, it tires us out. I have never spent so much time thinking about the English language. How we say things and reinforcing right language whilst still trying to give a natural speech rhythm and not. say. each. word. slow. and. deliberate. Because that's not how we speak! 

But now I look at her and she beams at me, full on cheesy grins. She goofs around and finds herself hysterical! She has friends! She looks out for them, takes care of them when they're hurt or sad. She has a special relationship with her sister - all be it, love one minute, drive crazy the next. We can chat together, she tells us about her day, we laugh, we joke, we have fun!

We still have a way to go, but Isobel's most recent speech and language tests have come back with great results. She'll be finishing Preschool next week and moving on up to Junior Kindergarten!

So, here's to the journey so far!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Fun, Fun, Fun!

The sun is shining, flowers are blooming and we only have about 4 weeks left of school. How time is flying by!

Life seems to be just full of fun right now. Isobel is loving school and it is so great to have conversations with her about her day. When I think back to the beginning of the year, we would get two or three words about her day, now we get so much information. Not just about her day either, we know who hurt them self,  who got into trouble, who she played with, as well as some of the activities she has been doing. Just this morning she told me she was making a bird in her art class.

Daddy Daughter Dinner Dance
We believe she is really lucky to be here with the wonderful opportunities she has. This past month alone, she has had a Daddy Daughter Dinner Dance, Crazy dress up days, a Sports Day, not to mention going to different plays, music concerts and art exhibitions. 

She is talking so much and her confidence is growing rapidly. She is no longer afraid to ask what is that, in fact, she will hound you until you have completely explained it to her.

Her speech is becoming clearer, to the point that people who don't see or speak to her often can understand her. She is also beginning to enter into and over hear conversations. This is quite significant as this requires her to be passively listening, that is, listening when she is not the direct recipient of the information. It's a great development.

It is a relief to know that the choice to go ahead with the cochlear implant was the right one. Looking at the Sports Day video, it's also good to know that her hearing loss doesn't seem to have affected her balance at all.

The two girls together are flourishing, growing so fast, learning so much from each other (good and bad). We enjoy watching their interactions and how they are developing. It is so important for them, being in this international environment, friends will come and go in schools like this, but sisters, I hope, will always be there for each other. Even if it is to outshine one another with an impromptu performance whilst walking the mountain behind our school. 

Sisters, there were never such devoted sisters....