Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hearing Aids: Just Getting Started

Let me start off by saying that, after coming to the realization that our first-born child would need hearing aids, there was, I think, a little bit of anxiety between Mel and I about what life would be like with them, how Maddie would handle the hearing aids, how WE would handle the hearing aids. But this blog has been such a blessing and helped us both so much in regards to what to expect and all the rest. If I could ever meet Kelly, whose oldest daughter is in hearing aids as well, I would give her a hug and tell her thank you.

So with that being said, we are about to begin day number three with the hearing aids. How has she done so far? Well, it's only been a few days, but I think we both agree that so far she's passed with flying colors.

I will try not to wax poetic the entire time about them, so I have composed a brief little general FAQ to hopefully answer some of the main questions.

How did Maddie respond to getting them put in for the first time? 
Maddie cried a little bit, more of a "hey what the heck are you doing to my ears" kind of cry noise. But that was mostly it! Although at the end of the first day of her having them, when I tried to put one of them back in after it had fallen out due to some vociferous playing, she was not having it. Times like that are to be expected though - especially at first. Day #2 went a lot better, and as she gets more used to them, hopefully each day will be a little better than the last.

Could she hear things right away? 
To answer the question accurately, kind of I guess yes. But Maddie was diagnosed with "mild to moderate" hearing loss. Meaning she could sort of hear things before, they all just sounded muffled due to her inability to hear certain frequencies of noise very well. Most words in the English language have those frequencies in them. But even before the hearing aids, she could recognize the tones of our voices fairly well, and was able to pick up on if we were playing, mad, trying to get her to do something, etc.

She also heard things she liked and recognized them, i.e. the Frozen soundtrack. The awesome thing now is that, through the wonders of modern technology, she'll be able to pick up on what Anna and Elsa (and Olaf) are singing about. And with the added help from the speech therapy, the hope is she will eventually get caught up on all the consonants, vowels, and everything else she might have missed while her ears "weren't working" very well.

Tell me more about these hearing aids.
Well, what is it you want to know?

Start from the top.
Ok well, the hearing aid was invented in the 1700's and was first called an "ear trumpet"....

Not that far back.
Ok sorry.

Maddie's hearing aid is called a "BTE", or "behind-the-ear" digital hearing aid because it goes, yep you guessed it, behind her ear. The battery and electronic part of the hearing aid sit behind Maddie's ears, and a tiny clear tube wraps over the top of her ear and connects to a soft mold made to fit in the middle of her ear. The inside part of the mold has a little hole in it which provides her ear with noise the hearing aid is helping her hear. There's also a little nylon rope that we have which connects from each hearing aid to a little clip, which we'll be using to clip on to the back of Maddie's clothes. That way in case they ever fall out of her ears, they'll just dangle down to the side of her body until we put them back in instead of falling on the ground and getting trampled on, eaten by the dog, used as hockey pucks, or something far worse like I'm not sure what.

There's no on/off button for the aids themselves - basically they're "on" when the batteries are in them, and when the batteries are in them (obviously) they're going to be in Maddie's ears. On average, according to Maddie's audiologist, the batteries should last about 3-5 days depending on how often she has them in her ears. The first day, we went 11 hours. God bless her. At this rate, we're going to be going through a lot of batteries.

How do you guys feel about things so far?
Honestly? I think we both feel like we underestimated things a little bit. Not that we assumed things would be a piece of cake all day, all the time. But we just have to remember that her new "special ears" are a part of Maddie and a part of her life now. And I'm sure that over time as we get more used to them, and Maddie gets more used to them - we absolutely will.

I guess above all else, we are thankful. Thankful that God blessed us with such an awesome little girl, filled with so much life and energy.

Thankful that this problem is a correctable one, because we know there are so many other families with much greater hardships to deal with.

Thankful that He blessed all those doctors and technicians with the ability to create new hearing technology and improve on it every day so that they, and our awesome audiologist Dr. Wheeler (and wonderful speech therapists), can help Maddie grow up as a normal, happy kid.

And also, thankful that Maddie has two unbelievable sets of grandparents that love her like crazy and are willing to do anything for her. And so many wonderful friends, for always showing they care and being always willing to lend an ear when it seems like everything is overwhelming.

You'll have to believe me when I tell you all this, but I'm not out to make me, my wife, or Maddie out to get attention or seem more important by blogging about our daughter who has a hearing disability. I'm not in this for notoriety, nor will I ever be. But if one person comes to our blog with the same intentions as we did going to Kelly Stamps' blog about her family and her daughter who also has "special ears".....if we can offer at least one other person out there a little more peace of mind....everything I've talked about here tonight and in the days/weeks/months (years? sure why not) to come will be worth it.

Also feel free to filter through all the old posts about sports. Sorry.

 - John

 (Editor's note: Isn't it funny the types of things people talk about as they grow up? Like I mean, two years ago I was on here talking about the Emmy's and live blogging the Super Bowl. Really? Live blogging the Super Bowl? I mean, you talk about asking for attention. Well, those days are gone now. We're moving on to bigger and better things. Which reminds me to tell you that next week I'll be talking about Sabremetrics and the lasting impact they've made on the game of baseball.)

(No not really.) 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Maddie's Announcement

In the year 2012, Mel and I decided we were going to try to have a baby. And try we did.

(Hey now.)


Anyway, nine months later, and we got to meet this little nugget.

Madeline Kara Vittas came into the world on April 30th, 2013. To say that we were so happy the day that she came into our lives would be an understatement

We smiled. A lot.

We cried. I cried mostly. A lot.

As a family, in the last sixteen months we've been through more than our fair share of happiness, sadness, laughter, tears, tears of laughter, frustration, relief, confusion, excitement, and everything in between. 

But mostly, we're thankful. Thankful that God continues to bless us with every day we get to have this delightful little ball of joy in our lives.

And now....

Look who gets to be a big sister. 

Coming March 2015!