Hannah's cochlear ear implant was "activated" or "turned on" March 22, just three weeks and a day after her surgery. The day marks Hannah's hearing birthday because this is the day Hannah heard sounds for the first time and the way she will be hearing for the rest of her life. The sounds are brand new to her and whatever sound she did hear with her hearing aids, the sound with the cochlear device is different.
To mark the occasion, Max Gomez from CBS News documented the joyous occasion for a news segment. Of course, the mother with a journalism background and a father who works in public relations brings a news crew with her. I wish we took a picture of Hannah with Max, she was such a charmer.
The activation went extremely well and her audiologist Megan said Hannah's responses were the best we could have hoped for or were "ideal". We were told Hannah might display one of three response: she could either be happy, frightened by the new sounds or nothing. The goal of the day was for Hannah to simply wear the device and be comfortable. We were so pleased that Hannah's responded much like she did with the hearing aids, she happily turned when she heard noise. This time though the noise wasn't blaring, forcing Michael and I to take cover. Rather it was somewhat normal everyday environment noises that piqued Hannah's interest.
Megan placed the headpiece with the microphone on Hannah's right ear. Megan initially had Hannah listen to a series of beeping sounds generated by her computer that linked directly to Hannah's device. Megan's goal's here was to have Hannah visually acknowledge the sound by looking at a cute panda in a box that began to drum. This showed that Hannah heard the sound, and that she knew the drummer would begin to drum and she would be excited to see it.
After the beeps, Megan worked with Hannah on hearing the ling sounds, the six sounds that represent various different speech sounds from low to high frequency. It is typical for a child who is hard of hearing not to hear the higher pitched sounds such as sshhhh, ssss, zzzzz. Hannah didn't hear these higher sounds at all with her hearing aids, but one of the benefits of the cochlear implants is to provide Hannah with the entire range of sound.
Hannah's new hearing devices were set very low and will gradually build to its threshold over the next couple of months. It's set so low because these sounds are all new to Hannah and we don't want her to be afraid of them or not like them. So far, her most definitive response was to loud sounds. They told us she might continued to be quiet at first, as Hannah is listening to herself and the new sounds around her.
The device has three programs that we gradually increase. We started at program one and by the end of the week we moved to program three. We head back to see Megan for the next set of programs that build upon what we did today to give Hannah more volume. Hannah's left ear will be activated on April 20. Stay tuned.
Sam checking out Hannah's new right ear accessories. We get the box for the left ear on April 20.
Hannah's been amazing throughout this whole process. She's kept up her happy, sweet demeanor. When she came home from the long day at NYEE, her big brother greeted her and instead of her usual and loud excited cackle, she waved to him and said him a little hhhaaaa, almost like a deep Southern hiiii y'all.
We spent the next day enjoying a little picnic in the park, enjoying the warm Spring afternoon with our friends Emilie and her daughter Olive. Olive is only a day older than Hannah and was activated on February 29, the same day as Hannah's surgery. They make for great little friends, sharing toys and learning from one another.
Hannah and Olive in Central Park. The object of their affection, a pacifier strap.
We've been busy helping Hannah detect sounds, getting her back into her routines and introduce the sounds to her. I've taken to singing to her the baby lullabies she missed as a newborn to help her get used to my voice and Daddy has been playing his guitar while Hannah shakes her maracas. So far, Hannah's been enjoying listening to the new sounds and has become even more animated. Life is great!
Don't forget! Share in Hannah's hearing journey by tuning into the CBS 5 pm newscast on Monday, April 2. It is slated to run at about 5:45 pm.