He just had a little cold…

Ryan was born April 9th, 1999. He was a healthy baby and passed his hearing test. He had no hearing issues at all. No delayed speech…even pronounced his /r/ sound correctly. Then, at 2.9 years he had a slight cold and two days later kept saying “huh?” every time someone talked to him. We were assurred by the pediatrition that it was fluid in his ear from a double ear infection (his first ever). Long story short…3 months at 5 rounds of antibiotics later we were finally referred to an ENT. By this point Ryan doesn’t seem to hear at all. The ENT put tubes in Ryan’s ears but he still wasn’t hearing well. We were told he had a moderate hearing loss and needed aids and to start speech and language therapy. Needless to say I was in shock. There is NO history of hearing loss on either side of the family. After the shock wore off I became very sad and angry. We went to a pediatric ENT specialist and pediatric audiologist. Same results. The ENT’s did not believe the ear infection caused the loss. The antibiotics given were not known to cause hearing loss and both ears had the exact same loss. Over the next year and half Ryan
continuted to lose hearing in both ears. By the time Ryan was 4.6 (October 2003) years, he had a severe-profound loss in both ears. He received a CI in his right ear in May of 2004, activated in June. By the beginning of August he was understanding the spoken language wonderfully and had only a mild loss with the CI. In late August 2004 when Ryan really clicked with his CI and was able to understand almost anything, he asked me when he could get one in his left ear.

Ryan is such a wonderful boy and an amazing trooper. After the first hearing drop or two I picked up on the signs immediately. I could tell the instant Ryan lost more hearing. His speech became nasally and slushy. His behavior was silly and his fuse was short. The slightest thing would frustrate or anger him. When testing his hearing in the booth, he was focused and always consistant. He worked hard in therapy and at home. When I was first told he had a hearing loss, I became very concerned about his education. I was a 1st grade teacher with a Master’s in Reading Education. I immediately started pushing phonic skills on him and teaching him to read and write at the age of 3. Now, in Kindergarten, he is reading at a high first grade level. Not because of me, but because of Ryan’s hard work and willingness to learn.

Ryan still has many challenges. By November 2004, his left ear bottomed out and a HA did nothing for him. If he isn’t concentrating he will not know what you are saying. He also will not advocate for himself if he didn’t understand something or missed some of the conversation. He also has no idea the direction a sound comes from. If I have moved from the last place I was and he did not see me move, he doesn’t know where I am when I call him. For example, if he saw me on the porch and I moved to the garden, when I call to him, he looks on the porch. If he hears a car honk, he doesn’t know where it is. He doesn’t know where a fellow student is when they call out to him. Also, when his CI batteries go dead, he is deaf. This is a disruption to the classroom and his learning. It has become a learning and safety issue.

Recently we are appealed to our health insurance provider to change their policy from paying for one implant to two based on the reasons above. The Chief Medical Officer is going to recommend they change their policy based on criteria that a CI showed beneficial results in one ear and a HA does not work in the other ear. Ryan will receive his second implant in March, 2005!

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