Saturday, June 21, 2008

To hear or not to hear?

This is the device that was surgically insterted into my dad's head, permanently. The part with the Electronics Housing and magnet (the two circles) sit a couple inches above his ear. Then the 16 Electodes are wired into the Cochlea, which is in the very inner ear.

This is the attachment that you actually see. He got this in Black so it's less noticeable. So, the white and orange part is what rests on his ear. The piece right after the hook thing is the computer, amazing huh! Then the lower part of it is the battery, which only lasts 17 hours and is $150 just for one. They gave him 4 that he rotates and are rechargeable, but they only last about a year. Anyway, then the orange circle piece is what sticks onto the outside of his head. It is magnetic and sticks to the magnet that is inside the device that was put into his skull. If he takes that magnet piece off his head, he can't hear and once he puts it back in place, the sound is back. Pretty amazing!

This is my dad, my sister Jalyce (14), my sister Jamie (17), and my mom.
To hear or not to hear? That was the question running through our mind on Tuesday, June 17th. This was the day the doctors called "Hook-up Day". To us, this meant whether or not my dad's world would change for the better or worse. Well, after four long weeks of waiting, they finally "turned on" Dad's Cochlear Implant device. At first, he said that everyone sounded very robotic. But then, after about 10 minutes, he recognized Mom's voice. Yes...Dad could finally HEAR!! How truly amazing this was for him and our family! He still has quite a long road ahead of him, more check ups and tests, but the great news was that he could hear us talk. It has been so much fun seeing him be able to hear again and to see what he can hear right now and what he can't. Surprisingly, he cannot hear the T.V. right now, but he did hear his pill drop on the floor. At dinner that night, he was tapping his fork on his plate, just to hear it again. He crinkled up a paper, just to hear it again. When he went to wash his hands after being able to hear, and heard nothing, but then after about 15 seconds, he heard the water running. Fifteen seconds was all it took for his brain to remember what it sounded like. So, he turned off the water and back on again to see if he heard it instantly, or if it would take it a few seconds to register again. So, he turned it on and instantly heard it. The brain is truly amazing. The doctors say it will take a little longer before he can hear the T.V. because there is so much going on and it's not constant. If he were to watch a familiar actor talk or a familiar movie, he may be able to pick up on that. They say after about 2 months of adjusting the device, he'll hear the max that he can. We're so excited and so very thankful that he was given this second opportunity to hear again. It's a miracle and we thank our Heavenly Father for blessing my Dad, and for the technology advancements we have today. We've been so blessed these last six months, I can't even describe my feelings and gratitude. Oh, and my dad is able to hear people talk on the phone, the land line is a lot better and clearer, but this is very exciting! Even when he had his hearing aides, he wasn't able to hear very well on the phone. Dad said that he is able to hear clearer than he ever had with hearing aides, isn't that awesome! His quality of hearing has already improved and it's only been a few days, and is only going to improve! HOORAY for second chances!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Can we say spoiled?

Tagg got a new Toyota Tundra when we went to Boise a couple of weeks ago to see Jamie (my sister) run at State Track. Tagg's been researching Tundra's and looking for one for four months! We were going to buy an '06, but then with all of the rebates Tom Scott Toyota was offering, we actually ended up getting an '08 for LESS than the '06. Crazy, I know. We didn't believe it either, but sure enough, the $7000 rebates were legit and we came home with a new truck. Tagg has never had a new vehicle, as he says, "with less miles than my age" so when this had 23 miles on it, and that new car scent, he was in love. Happy Father's Day, Tagg!

Our fingers are crossed...we love you DAD!

I never realized the value of hearing until my dad, at the age of 46, went completely deaf! He has been able to hear with hearing aides for about 3 or 4 years, but two weeks before Christmas, both ears can no longer hear. It was a hard Christmas, as my dad was dealt a hand he had never been dealt before. Then the concerns of not knowing whether his job would work around him, wondering if he should learn sign language, and mostly how he was going to be able to communicate with anyone. We quickly realized the seriousness of not being able to hear. His whole world changed overnight. At least with hearing aides, he could communicate and people could see that he had them in his ears. Now with being completely deaf, he looks fine, he's young, and can talk to you, he just can't hear you. Some of the things we so easily take for granted like being able to hear really changes your outlook on life. My dad was shopping at Wal-Mart for Christmas presents, and the cashier forgot to de-activate one of the electronic devises, so when Dad left the store and the security beeper went off, he of course didn't hear the beeping, nor did he hear the employee telling him, "Sir, please come back into the store." Dad kept walking to his car, when he was all but thrown to the ground by two employees, giving Dad several bruises. Could they not have been more tactiful??? Embarrassed was an understatement for how my dad felt that day. And the realization of being deaf sank in. They of course took him back inside, and Dad kept telling them he was deaf. Once they checked his bags and realized he was telling the truth, the apologies began. My dad told us that he truly felt that he was no longer a part of the "hearing" world, to sit in silence and know what you're missing was almost unbareable for him, and for us to see him missing out. The simple things were no longer simple. He couldn't go through the drive-thru at any fast food place now, he can't hear them. So, instead he has to go inside, tell them he's deaf and that he just wants a #2, don't upgrade or add anything, and he can't take a number or give you his name to call when it's ready, because he can't hear you. So, he tells them he will be waiting at the end of the counter. Making a doctor's appt. takes two trips, he can't call, so he has to go there to make the appt and then go back when the appt actually is. To sit for three hours in silence at church, and not know what is being said or taught. Anyway, we have gone through lots of post-it notes, pens, and markers from writing everything down on the dry-eraser board, but worth every cent to be able to talk to your dad. Now for the exciting part. Dad met with an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist in Utah and found out that he was a candidate for the Cochlear Implant Surgery. After months of being deaf, there was finally some hope of him hearing again. The down sides, there was no guarantee it would work, no money back, and you had to wait 4 weeks after the surgery to find out if it worked. This doctor only will allow one ear to be operated on, so with the hefty price at $140,000 for one ear, Dad's surgery was scheduled for May 19th. I was able to take a week off of work to be in Utah with my parents. It was an experience that I will never forget. It was so hard seeing my dad in so much pain, but exciting at the same time for the possibility that he may be able to hear us again! This picture is the day after the surgery, he had a black eye and a Migrane from you know where. Dad goes back down to Utah on Tuesday, June 17th to get the attachment that magnetically sticks to his head and find out if he can hear. They say he will never hear the same way he did before, but at least he'll be able to hear something. And it could be up to 7 months of rehab, which means traveling to Utah each month. Dad keeps saying, "you can't put a price on hearing." I'm so grateful for the technology we have now, how amazing it is to me that they operated at 7:00 a.m., cut around his ear and inserted a device into his skull. Then they inserted 16 wires into the very inner ear, called the Cochlea, and was done by 9:00a.m. We were in the recovery room for about 6 hours, and then they let us take him back to the hotel. I was and still am shocked that cutting into his head would only be a day surgery. The doctor actually doesn't even see him again until the 4 weeks of healing are complete. The doctor said he has an 82% chance of hearing again, so our fingers are crossed. Sometimes, it is so hard to understand why we are given the challenges and trials, but then to look back to Christmas and see how our family has changed, I can't help but feel so blessed. Dad is still here, it may be harder to communicate with him, but at least he's here. It's been fun watching my little (well, younger I think they are both taller than me now) sisters become closer to him. It has given us all an opportunity to communicate in a different way and to pull together for eachother, but mostly for Mom and Dad. My mom has been amazing through this as well, I can't imagine not being able to just talk to my husband. My favorite time is talking in bed before we fall asleep. For my mom, now she just writes it down. :o) We love you Mom and Dad! We're so anxious and so excited, and definately praying for another miracle!!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Boy or Girl?

Okay, I fully admit that I have not been the best blogger, I told you this would be a challenge. We have been super busy, if that counts as an excuse. Anyway, we had our big ultrasound on May 9th and the verdict is officially in...Tagg and I are having a baby GIRL! The first thing that Tagg said was, "Darc always gets her way!" We all just laughed. I have been trying to prepare Tagg for the last few months by telling him that I was pretty sure it's a girl. It was fun to see her moving around and know that she is measuring right on schedule. We picked up this onsie that says "I am not a boy" and Tagg said we'll have to bring her home from the hospital in it so he remembers that it's a girl. She is going to be the 5th grandchild on my side (she makes it 3 girls and 2 boys) and she will be the 16th grandbaby on Tagg's side (she makes 12 girls and 4 boys). When Tagg told his siblings, he just said, "It's another freaking girl!" And everyone's responses were the same....all broke out in laughter! Tagg was wanting a boy to brag to his older brother Chad, who has 4 girls. Maybe next time. :o)