Monthly Archives: July 2008

Trip to the eye doctor

Ben has been complaining of not being able to see clearly and I thought that he was exaggerating, since the main time he has complained has been in his Sunday School class when pictures are shown that correlate with scripture stories. He will jump out of his chair and insist on getting right up to the picture and I figured that it was just one of his ADHD type tactics when he is bored. After all, he didn’t complain at other times of not being able to see well.

His last eye exam was about 18 months ago; gasp if you must. At the time, his vision was only about 20/60 in one eye and 20/80 in the other. Not too bad at all, and the eye doctor told him to only wear his glasses for distance vision since she didn’t want his eyes weakening even faster by wearing them for close-up work as well. Unfortunately, not wearing them all the time has led to him losing them half of the time. With his huge sensory issues, he also decided to chew off the plastic nose pieces of his metal frames. He can’t give you a valid reason, so don’t waste your time asking him why. With the nose pieces gone, he didn’t want to wear his glasses because they hurt his nose.

Off we went to the eye doctor today to see how bad his vision actually was. Jeff had mentioned to me that Ben had a difficult time earning his archery merit badge at Scout camp 2 weeks ago, but I thought it was just because he needed to learn how to aim accurately. Today he informed me that it was because he had a hard time seeing the target. Yikes!

The eye doctor checked his vision and I was shocked to see how little he could actually read on the eye chart without his glasses on. After the eye exam she informed me that one eye is 20/200 and the other is 20/400! Even though that seems half blind to me, she assured me that those numbers are still only in the moderate range for near sightedness. It’s also quite common for kids’ vision to change quite a bit when they hit adolescence and growth spurts. I still felt like such a heel that I had not had his vision checked 6 months ago when he really should have been due. Not only have I never won the Mother of the Year award, it’s clear that I won’t be winning it for 2008 either!

He actually did earn his archery merit badge, however, which judging from his vision abilities is an example of his dogged persistence. When he wants something, he will do what it takes to get it.


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Filed under medical costs, Parenting

Fed-Ex Snafu

Being the active, no impulse control boy that Ben is, he decided to take apart his new external processor for his cochlear implant. Not dismantle it–which also would not surprise me–but merely take apart the two main pieces where they join together. What he didn’t realize, however, was that you have to twist them a quarter turn before you separate them. Instead, he just yanked…and broke the connection pieces.

We were anxiously awaiting the arrival of a replacement processor, because having broken his ear level one, he was back to wearing the body worn processor. Having known the freedom of no cords, he was anxious to get out of the body worn processor.

Friday, the Fed-Ex man showed up with a package for us. I signed for it and then we hurriedly ripped it open. It wasn’t the usual packaging that Cochlear Corporation sends, but I didn’t give it alot of extra thought. When we tore it open, however, a prescription bottle fell out. I’m sure I looked startled. I know Ben sure did. I hurriedly turned the package over and saw that this was actually supposed to be delivered to a neighbor about 10 doors down. I then looked at the label on the bottle and it was Viagra. I started cracking up laughing, and Ben and Micheline couldn’t figure out what was so hilariously funny. As I turned to the phone book to try and call Fed-Ex to tell them of the error, I saw the delivery truck return. I was still laughing as I went to the door and the driver told me that he had delivered the wrong package and handed me the correct one. I apologized for tearing open the other one without reading the label and told the driver what I had found inside. He too started laughing and told me that he would repackage it before he delivered it.

If I were more courageous–and I guess unkind as well–I would be tempted to go put a note on his door and ask him if things are doing better these days. Instead, I’ll just keep chuckling to myself when I drive past his house. Chuckling quietly so the kids don’t ask me again what was so hilarious about a prescription medication.


Filed under Cochlear Implants, Funnies

Bilateral cochlear implants

I love this photo. It is of my sweet boy practicing with the anesthesia mask before he went back to the operating room for his first cochlear implant. It was a traumatic time…for me. I was deathly afraid of the experience, even though I had put much prayer and research into it and knew it was the right thing for our family to do. I knew it was an elective surgery, however, so I feared not being able to forgive myself if something went wrong. As you can see from the second photo, the surgery really wasn’t traumatic for Ben.

This is him the day after surgery. He was almost 5 1/2 years old, and had only been part of our family for 10 months, having been adopted the previous year from China. Ben is 12 now, and has been asking for a second cochlear implant for almost two years. At first I hesitated, because I thought he just wanted a second one because he had a friend who had two. Also, our insurance was not approving them at the time, stating that they were not medically necessary.

He has persisted in asking, saying that he wants to hear with both ears, not just one, even praying about it regularly, asking God to find him a good surgeon. In the meantime, our insurance company has come to its senses, as people have pointed out that everyone has two ears, so why not two cochlear implants to help you hear with both ears instead of just one? Blue Cross is now deeming bilateral implants as medically necessary. Because Ben has not had stimulation via a hearing aid to that ear for 12 years, he might not do as well with it, at least in the beginning. Then again, I know other children who also didn’t have stimulation to their second ear but have done well hearing with their second implant. We tried a hearing aid on the second ear for awhile after his first implant, but he hated it since he got no benefit whatsoever, and he hated wearing an ear mold.

Ben has Mondini’s dysplasia, with his cochlea only have 1 3/4 turns instead of the normal 2 1/2. His first implanted ear is the same, however, and he can hear between 5 and 10 dB in the sound booth even with the first 6 electrodes turned off. They are turned off because with his cochlea having less turns, they could not place all of the electrodes inside the cochlea. He also has enlarged vestibular aquaducts (EVA) that affect balance and are also a cause of progressive deafness.

We drove to a surgeon a couple of hours away because I was not real comfortable with the only surgeon in our town who does cochlear implants on children. Due to Ben’s difference in anatomy with his cochlea, I wanted someone who had more experience. After meeting the surgeon and asking him many questions, I feel comfortable with him. He trained at House Ear Institute in Los Angeles and does about 60-70 cochlear implants/year. I had been warned by 2 people that he was very arrogant, but perhaps they have not dealt with as many surgeons as I have since I worked as a nurse. I’ve met arrogant surgeons, and I would describe this guy more as confident in his abilities and a bit enamored with himself. He took his time with us and answered all of my questions without me feeling rushed, so I think we will be a good match.

We have chosen the Freedom CI which is made by Cochlear corporation, as its internal device has the highest reliability ratings of any cochlear implant. He currently has a Freedom external processor on his first ear, but a Nucleus 24K inside, which is a bit older technology. With his new implant, he will have the Freedom inside and out. What I love about Cochlear Corp. is that they never leave a patient stranded with older technology. Anytime they have new and improved external processors, they make them compatible with any of the older internal devices, so that all of their patients can benefit.

The surgeon wants to keep Ben in the hospital overnight as a precaution due to the Mondini’s and EVA. I’m OK with that as it is always better to be safe than sorry. Kids heal so fast from this surgery, however, it is amazing. With his first implant he went to the O.R. at 7:30 in the morning, they were done by 9, we were discharged by noon and by 3 p.m. we were having to stop him from jumping from an ottoman in our hotel to the bed.

We’re just waiting now for insurance precertification and then we can schedule the surgery. I’m hoping it comes in time that we can do it over his first school break week which is the week of Labor Day. Unlike his first surgery where we waited 4 weeks to turn it on, this one will be turned on in about 4 days. The surgical technique is different and more advanced with the only scar hidden where the ear meets the skull. There is far less trauma to the tissue in this type of incision, so doctors can turn them on much sooner than they used to. Ben won’t even have his head shaved at the surgical site this time around.

It will be interesting to see how he progresses with his second implant. I’ve seen some people take off and others struggle to get used to the sound through the second ear. At least this time around we know what to expect and he will already have good sound and comprehension coming from his first implant.

If you would like to know more about the benefits of bilateral cochlear implants, go here to read about them as well as here to watch some amazing videos on bilateral implants and the benefits of binaural hearing.


Filed under Cochlear Implants

Prayer–no roaming fees

My son, Taylor, is a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving in the Texas, Fort Worth mission. He sent this photo of a marquee outside a church in Texas, and I wanted to share it.

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Filed under Funnies, Religion

Off to Scout Camp

Because Ben was still in school when our Scout troop went off to camp the first week of June, he was unable to attend. So, tomorrow he and Jeff will be heading up the mountain near here for another Scout camp; just the two of them. To say he is excited would be an understatement. He spent all day yesterday packing, unpacking and repacking. I’d like to think I have made an impact on my boys since he actually was packing 5 different pair of long pants for the week. Jeff is always adamant that they only need one pair of long pants for nighttime, and a few pairs of shorts. I have tried to tell him that not every boy wants to put on the same dirty pair of pants each night, but he just shakes his head at me. I guess it’s a guy thing. I’m not afraid to get dirty while camping, but I do appreciate a clean pair of clothes to put on each morning.

You have to know a bit of background. When Jeff was a boy, his mom could send him out to play and within 30 minutes his pants could be black. His brothers would return with maybe a smudge or two, but Jeff looked like he had rolled in the mud. Even now at 50, he still wipes his hands on his pants. He tells me that’s what he figures pants were made for…so you don’t have to wipe your hands on your bare legs.

He and Taylor laughed last year when I packed a plethora of shorts and pants for both Caleb and Ben. “Boys don’t change their clothes at Scout camp!”, Taylor informed me. “Well, maybe you didn’t, but these boys will!”, I replied. I was wrong. They came home with most of their clothes unworn, but smelly from putting their dirty clothes back in with the clean ones so the whole kit and kaboodle had to be washed anyway. They also didn’t brush their teeth the entire week. Dirty clothes I can live with. Unbrushed teeth? UGH! Both they and Jeff got murmurings and grumblings from me for at least a week on oral hygiene and who would be paying the next dental bills for cavities.

This year, I am happy to say (probably to avoid the wrath of Mom), Caleb brushed his teeth while at camp. I have my fingers crossed that Ben will as well. If all goes well, he might even wear more than one pair of pants.

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Filed under motherhood