Friday, February 27, 2009

A Waterpik- Who Knew?

I went into the pediatrician's office to get Nolan's ear cleaned out. I could have bought an over-the-counter kit, but I'm still nervous about "messing" with his ears. Turns out the pediatrician's office was less traumatic than going to the ENT in Buffalo. The ENT uses a pick and a vacuum to get everything out, while Nolan is strapped to a papoose board. Our pediatrician's office uses a... Waterpik. They're not just for teeth anymore!

Nolan still cried and hated it, but at least he was held on my lap and it wasn't as scary or as loud as the ENT equipment. They got most of the wax out and his eardrum is visible again. Now we'll see if he'll leave his hearing aids in for longer than 30 minute increments. Hey, there's always hope!

Update: the hearing aids were ripped out in less than 15 minutes. ARGH.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Official Normal Hearing

We went up to Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center yesterday to get our final "yes, he hears!" test. We were able to get a nice line of hearing results at 15dB across the board, and test each ear independently. We did have a moment of anxiety when Matt sat staring blankly while tones were playing at 35dB in his left ear. It took him about a minute or so, and then he turned and said to Michelle the audiologist, "I keep hearing that!" After that, we just ran tones at 15dB and he responded to all of them. It is nice to rule hearing out as a cause of his speech (consonant deletion and cluster reduction) issues!

Nolan was up next, for earmold impressions. I told the audiologist about our PE tube concerns, so she took a look. She couldn't visualize the left one, and the right one was located in a build-up of wax. She did a quick tympanogram, and the left ear showed a flat line with a large volume (this means a functional tube is still in place). She took another look, and finally located the tube in the top corner of his eardrum. This is a relief, because he has one tube still in place and functioning. The right tube is definitely out, but the eardrum is healed and he has no signs of fluid.

We also found the cause of his ear pain in the right ear. Nolan has been crying when I put his right hearing aid in, and I was worried it was infected. It isn't infected, but there is a lot of wax in his ear canal. The wax is getting pushed into his eardrum when we put the earmold in his ear, hence the pain. I'm going to call the pediatrician to see if they can remove the wax, in the hopes of avoiding a trip to the ENT in Buffalo.

We also discussed Nolan's hearing issues in background noise. We had the background noise suppression program turned on and we'll see if it helps over the next two weeks. If it doesn't help, then we'll simply turn it off when we go to pick up his earmolds.

The audiologist also discussed the potential for getting an FM system through the early intervention program. I am hopeful we will be able to get one, because Nolan starts a 2 year old preschool program next year and it would help him during story time and other activities. That classroom is particularly noisy (Matt is in the program now), has tile floors, and is filled with 12 excited two year olds. The FM system may help during library story hour as well, since Nolan currently wanders aimlessly during story time.

Luckily we spend most of our time in an acoustically friendly environment, and Nolan's speech is taking off. We have 2 word phrases, and the occasional 3-word phrase slips out. We're also nearing the "too many words to count" point in his speech development. He tries to say so many new words each day that I simply can't keep up with him!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Our Jr. Deaf Club

Nolan wishes he were big enough to ice skate!

We live in a rather rural area, which means there are few children who have a hearing loss. Most of the kids in our area are the only children in their entire school district who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants, so it is nice when we can get the whole group together. Nolan is (by far) the youngest of the kids, but he definitely enjoys all the attention he gets from the older kids. As he gets older, he will have the opportunity to socialize with other kids who have "ear gear."

Matt also enjoys the outings- he actually started ice skating all by himself last night!

In our area, we don't have preschools dedicated to kids with a hearing loss or school districts that are used to dealing with hard of hearing and deaf children. Thanks to a local Teacher of the Deaf, however, we do have a social group. And that makes Nolan a very happy boy!

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Nolan's been sounding more like a seal than a boy lately, and was having whistling while breathing. I took him into the pediatrician this morning (gotta love doctors that have Saturday hours) and found out the whistling is called "stridor" and the barking cough is due to croup. That's the good news.

She checked his ears and said, "oh, great! I see his tube has come out" in a very chipper voice. This doctor is not his regular pediatrician and has no clue about his permanent hearing loss or his history of fluid. The tubes are apparently sitting in his ear canals and should fall completely out shortly.

Here we are, two months after the second set of tubes were put in, and both are already out. We don't see the ENT again until May, so hopefully we won't have any ear infections or fluid issues in the next few months. If he needs a third set of tubes, the adenoids come out at the same time. We were really hoping this set would last a tad longer! He's also only 20 pounds, 3 ounces, which means he's fallen a little further off the growth charts with regard to weight.

We see the audiologist on February 24 for Matt's just-to-make-sure hearing test and new earmold impressions. I'm going to have her take a look to see where those tubes are, just to make sure they really are out.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Dennis and I both had doctor appointments yesterday, scheduled back-to-back so that one of us could always be with our two insane endearing children. While waiting for Dennis, a man who appeared to be sixty-ish sat down next to us. He took note of Nolan's hearing aids, pointed to his own, and said,

"I just got these."

I told him Nolan has had his for over a year and is a seasoned pro. That's when the confusing dialogue started, that made my brain want to explode:

"So, does he have a frequency loss or a volume loss?"

OK, I've gotten many strange questions with regard to Nolan's hearing loss, but this one probably takes the cake.

"Both. He can't hear soft sounds and he doesn't hear normally across any of the frequencies used for speech."

Undaunted, the man tried to clarify,

"Yes. But is it a frequency loss or a volume loss?"


I actually thought about drawing out an audiogram, but quickly realized a man claiming to be from Pennsyltucky probably wouldn't understand it. I finally just said,

"It's a pretty mild loss. His hearing aids help him a lot."

Then I gathered up our coats to escape leave. As I did, the man exclaimed,

"Well, I have a frequency loss!"


Saturday, February 7, 2009

I Didn't Teach Him That!

Nolan thinks our cat is "eegee." He's not wrong.

When you find out your kid has a hearing loss, you find out that one of the things they miss out on is "incidental learning." They don't overhear things as easily, and might miss out on some language and learning opportunities. This is probably why, for instance, Nolan looked at me blankly when I asked him where the toy firetruck was. We haven't specifically sat down to play with firetrucks and labeled them as such (this has been remedied, by the way).

On the other hand, we have some additional "language helpers" in our house. Matthew loves playing with Nolan (most of the time) and has obviously been teaching him new words. Today I have heard the following- none of which has been taught to Nolan by Dennis or myself:

My! (mine!)

Eegee (stinky)

Puh (poop)

Weh! (away, as in "go away!")

The words are piling on fast and furious. "Mine" is the current favorite, and he is beginning to resemble the seagulls in Finding Nemo. As much as I'm not a fan of the word "mine," there's something really cool about his brother teaching him words that we probably wouldn't. Brothers rock.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A New Word

Nolan's adding new words at a rate of about 2 per week, but one caught my attention recently (hint: it's my favorite!). Yes, we have "mommy." Not "mama" or "ma," but an extremely clear and beautiful "mommy."

It took my hearing kid* almost 3 years to utter this word, so I am over the moon that Nolan is saying it so early. He is speaking so clearly that it can be hard to remember that he does have a hearing loss. Just when we start to get complacent, though, we have a few "hard of hearing moments." Asked where his tummy is, he sticks out his tongue. And asked if he wants to go "up high," he points to the light. Auditory and speech therapy are very, very helpful and necessary!

*On that note, Matt will be going in for another hearing test just to make sure he really can hear. We still lack plurals, past tense, and mid/final consonants in his words. I'll update when we get an appointment!