Not quite yet. Ben’s implant was activated four weeks ago, but the amount he is currently hearing out of the left side is minimal. I knew it would take awhile. After all, it took six months the first time around for him to recognize the sound of a phone ringing.
He does love wearing his new implant, which is a huge plus, but they were only able to activate 9 of the 22 electrodes due to the others causing facial nerve stimulation. That was a huge disappointment, since his right ear has 17 of the 22 electrodes turned on and I had hoped for a similar response.
A friend, in offering some hope, reminded me that Ben’s doctor turns implants on very quickly–within one week after surgery–while most surgeons still wait at least 4 weeks for all of the swelling to go down and the site to heal fully. She likened Ben’s activation to a premature baby, and just as you don’t really judge a preemie by their actual birthdate, but rather by when they should have been born, she suggested that I look at Ben’s activation as premature. The audiologist did say that we might be able to turn on a few more electrodes when more of the swelling has gone down, which can take 4-6 weeks to fully resolve. A rep from Cochlear Corporation will be here next month and said she also had some ideas to tweak his maps so that hopefully we can turn on more electrodes without stimulation to the facial nerve.
We go on Tuesday for another mapping and then his first trip hopefully into the sound booth to see what he is actually hearing out of that ear. Judging from how he is doing with that ear isolated during speech therapy, it isn’t much so far. We are back to square one of trying to distinguish between two simple Ling sounds, or noticing environmental sounds. I have a listening program that we did with him when he was 5 years old that has him distinguish sounds in a small, closed set, such as pictures of a dog, a cat and an airplane. We will start working on sounds such as those that he is already familiar with and see how he progresses. At least this time around, he already knows what those animals/objects sound like, whereas when he was 5 years old he had no clue.
Meanwhile, here are some pictures from his surgery that I never posted. The hospital was a dive…room was dirty and the nursing care was very poor. Maybe I’m too critical since I used to work as an RN, but a fresh post-op patient at least ought to have a set of towels, a clean gown and a basin in case he gets sick, not to mention a water pitcher and some ice chips. We had nothing, and it took more than an hour for him to get his pain meds when we came to the floor after leaving recovery. He was writhing in pain, face down in a fetal position by the time they gave him some meds. Thankfully by the next morning he was feeling much better and we were able to bust out of there. A bonus was a huge Great Dane therapy dog in the lobby on the way out. Sitting on Mom’s lap, ready to go back to the O.R. He has his Koala from Cochlear Corp, which also has a (fake) cochlear implant.
He was thrilled when a nurse gave him some sherbet ice cream as we waited to be discharged. This was the first time he felt good enough to really want to smile. Once we finally got his meds after he got to his room he only had minimal discomfort, but the meds kept him feeling kind of dopey.