In A's case he was born hearing, and heard for 2 years, then lost his hearing, so what culture does that make him then? A foot in both camps?
When A was diagnosed and we were waiting for his implant surgery, we were not that aware of all this controversy. We took our cues from the professionals we were working with. At that point in time the studies that were about concerning children with a hearing loss and their language development and levels of attainment, were consistently showing that Auditory Verbal Therapy (AVT) was producing the best outcomes for young children. Children with the benefit of the kind of hearing cochlear implants were giving them, were clearly benefitting from AVT.
In those months whilst we waited for A's surgery, we were hopeful it would work and he would hear again, but the doubts still swam around in my head. What if it doesn't work, then we will all learn to sign?
Now here's the thing - it isn't like I have anything against sign language because I don't. In the 2001 census data the number of Auslan users was around 6,500 out of a population of nearly 19 million! So clearly the numbers of people that can communicate with fellow auslan users isn't that high.
The other thing for us was that we knew spoken English, we didn't know Auslan. Whilst many proponents of Auslan suggest that we should have learnt Auslan and taught A to both speak and sign, this was near impossible under the circumstances. We had two boys under 3 years old, we were learning about deafness and what it meant and some days we were just trying to put one foot in front of the other. In essence we would have needed to learn a foreign language to us, at a fast enough rate to keep ahead of A to ensure his full language development. It wasn't that we were not willing to do whatever it took for A, because we were, but at that point we believed spoken language was the way forward for A.
It is my firm belief that parents must make what they believe to be the best choice for their child at that time. I personally know of parents whose children had more hearing than A who chose to educate their child using only Auslan. I didn't understand their decision then and I still don't, but I respect their right to make what they feel is the best decision in the best interests of their child.
One day while visiting the Centre we met another family of a child not much older than A who already had a cochlear implant. Well there it was, as plain as the nose on my face, this little boy in front of me, turning to his mother calling his name, answering her questions, his speech quite easy to understand...oh my goodness, that light in the distance was shining a little brighter.....
Of course we had to go through the routine hearing aid trial which meant many hearing tests along the way. Same deal for A, hold the block to your ear, drop it in when you hear something...uh-ha, no problems....well except for the fact I can't hear the instructions and I can't hear the damn noise to know when to drop the bloody block into the damn bucket! It sure was a frustrating time, most of all for A, he was only 2 and 1/2 years old with the patience to match!
Before we knew it surgery day had rolled around, we were basket cases by then. Were we doing the right thing, how would he go with surgery????
Funny thing happened just before that though. I told you before about the most amazing, wonderful man who was our ENT and the surgeon that did A's cochlear implant surgery. Well he believes that parents of kids with a hearing loss have enough to deal with, without heaps of bills, so in essence whatever Medicare or private health rebate to parents paid, is what he charged. Yep not a cent more! Truly this man (though now retired) is an angel that walks amongst us.
Well clearly one of the more unscrupulous, money grabbing private hospitals didn't feel that this doctor was making enough surplus money for the hospitals ever gorging coffers. So in a nutshell they removed his license to operate in their hospital and gave it to an orthopedic surgeon instead - heaven help those orth patients, they would have been paying big bickies then!
So by the time A's surgery had come round we were going to a different hospital, one his surgeon hadn't done an implant surgery at. True to form though, our doctor had been in explaining things to the nurses that would assist him, showing them videos of the surgery, talking them through the whole procedure.
We didn't really have a lot of time to worry about the new hospital setting, A was having a cochlear implant that was all that mattered! Plus I respected and trusted his surgeon, so I knew he wouldn't let the change of hospital have any impact on A.
Well we felt like royalty when we arrived, the first paediatric cochear implant patient at the hospital. None less than the Director of Nursing herself met us as we entered the hospital entrance, with a bright colourful helium balloon in hand. She personally escorted us to A's room and introduced us to members of the staff. It was all very sweet, very welcoming and certainly put us at ease.
Before long A was ready to go and was called into surgery.....that wonderful surgeon, yes he let us walk all the way down carrying A and holding him until the anaesthetist had put him under. Next came the longest four and a half hours of our lives. "Go for a walk, grab a coffee, some lunch or something"...oh yeah right, while our baby is in there with you???? We made ourselves go out and walk into the city centre....not that either of us ate anything, that rolled up tight ball in our stomachs went half way up our throats, there was no food going down there - a coffee at a squeeze and that was it! We did however buy out almost all the Thomas the Tank Engine merchandise in the city shops because they were As favourites and nothing was too much for him then!
We had decided prior to that I would go home and collect B from whoever's place he was that day (B's story is a whole nother blog!) while hubby would stay with A. So at the end of a long day, I kissed my sleeping angel good bye and gave hubby a kiss and a hug and headed home. We were both so exhausted, not so much because of anything we had done but because of the stress of worrying, of wondering, of waiting.....
I don't know why it is, but when you have important things to do like go see your little guy in hospital again the next day, suddenly all these unforseen things appear that just have to be done....like where were they last week or the week before? Why do I have to do them today, can't they wait a week? Ah no, it appeared not! So B and I ran around doing all these stupid errands before making it back to the hospital around mid-morning.
Now remember I had left young grumpy bum dozing on and off and not really being that happy with the world at large the night before. I approached his hospital ward with trepidation....
Before he went into hospital we had made sure we had some button up shirts so they wouldn't need to go over his head - it was summer, it was boys wear, they were loud and colourful (quite appropriate in the future it would seem!).
So I am approaching the ward, trying not to sprint the last 100 metres down the ward to collect that angel into my arms and smother him with kisses. Well I look up to see this multi-coloured 2 foot nothing tornado barrelling down the hallway at a million miles an hour throwing bodies behind him (well ok not throwing bodies but the rest was true)! He tore down the corridor towards me, his face a beaming smile, eager to see me and of course to see his little brother. The change in him from the night before took my breath away!
Oh it is so true what they say, we parents suffer the anxiety, the sleep deprivation, the worry and for what? So we may look like death warmed up to those that see us, while the cause of our worries, our dear sweet child, no he is as fresh as a daisy and raring to go. Not that I minded of course, it was wonderful to see him so happy and so unaffected by his surgery.
Mind you his hospital stay was not without its moments, more on that in the next blog....so you will have to keep checking into find out more....