CI Number 1!

Well folks, the long awaited day (for Jason and I, at least) is finally here.  As I type James is in the OR receiving his first cochlear implant!!  It feels like it's taken forever to get here!  We've been talking to him about this surgery for a few weeks now, about going to the hospital and seeing the doctor.  I'm not sure how much he understands, but I think enough to know that surgery isn't something people usually enjoy!  When we got here he was fine, except for being angry that I wouldn't give him anything to eat.  When you check in they give the child a map of everything that happens from check-in to discharge.  He was looking at all the pictures, and when he saw the one of the OR he told he didn't like it, didn't like the gas mask.  So say what they will, he remembers what happens in there!  (One of the anesthesiologists told me that with the happy juice they gave him, he probably wouldn't remember anything.  Yeah, right.)  Anyway, we hung out for a little while, not as long as other times, and they gave him the happy juice.  He kept asking to go to sleep while we were waiting.  After about 30 minutes they came for us and we walked to the OR.  As soon as he saw it, he started getting upset and crying.  The staff was wonderful and let me hold him the whole time until he was asleep.  They tried to convince him the mask was good by having everyone smell it, but he wasn't buying it!  When they finally put it on him he cried and thrashed for about 20 seconds and then he was out.  And now I sit here in a fairly crowded waiting room for about 3 hours while this is implanted into his head.
The technology is quite astounding, really!  The round part has a magnet in it and gets attached to his skull, behind and above his ear.  The coils are electrodes that go into the cochlea and act as an artificial cocheal, if you will.  If you don't know how hearing works, here's a quick explanation: Sound goes into your ear canal and hits your eardrum.  The eardrum vibrates the small bones in the ear called the hammer, anvil, and stirrup.  The stirrup vibrates the cochlea, which is the part of your ear that looks like a sea shell.  It has little hairs inside, and the cochlea sends sound signals to the auditory nerve, which sends the messages to the brain.  So the implant gathers sound from the processor -
that is worn over the ear.  The round part attaches via the magnet to the internal device above.  The processor sends the sound signals to the electrodes in the cochlea and directly to the auditory nerve.  
When everything works correctly, a person using a CI has full access to sound and language, but it is different from regular hearing.  It produces a digitized sound, from what I've been told.  

Now the audiologist will test the internal device today, while James is still in the OR.  But he won't get the processor until October 23rd, his activation day.  Everything inside has to heal before the processor can be used.  Once activated, it will take quite some time before James understands what he's hearing.  Think of it like a newborn.  They can hear, but everything is just noise.  It takes months before they can understand words and distinguish between sounds.  With James, it will be like that and then some.  His brain has gone a long time without any auditory input, so he has a lot of work to do to learn to hear.  And while some kids with CIs do learn to talk and develop clear speech, others don't.  We have no way of knowing which of those James will be, but if you know him, you know he's a "talker," so we are optimistic that he will be motivated to learn to speak.  Either way, signing will be a part of his life, and our lives, because ultimately he is still a deaf child.  So if you're thinking that his CI let's you off the hook for learning some sign language, it doesn't!  :)))


  1. Praying his healing is quick and complication FREE!! Can't wait to "hear" what happens when he gets his CI turned on!!! Ya Hoo!


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