Sunday, June 15, 2008

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!!


NancyT said...

What a bummer! I couldn't even imagine. At least you could be there for support:)

Jason said...

I had no idea your dad was going through this! I think I noticed last time I saw him that we was wearing hearing aids, but I didn't think much of it. We will be praying for him and hope for the best.

Steph said...

Hey Darci. I got your address through Linseys. What you wrote about your dad was really sweet and touching. I'm so sorry to hear about that. I had no idea. Your family is amazing, and I'm glad you are all there for each other. Hopefully I'll see you on Saturday at the game.