Our intention was to continue to journal and share Hannah's journey through the first few years of her having cochlear implants, yet it seems that the past 2+ years have flown by and Hannah has been doing so well.
She was recognized last week for being on the honour role for the 2nd year in a row (grade 9 and grade 10) and she is now in grade 11 and she continues to excel.
Since her surgery she has also been working part-time for over 2 years now at a small country market (all year around). She works in produce at least one day a week. Her dedication to her work (no matter if it is school work, her place of employment or at home), is incredible. She goes above and beyond.
Hannah also attended her very first concert as a way to celebrate her 16th birthday. Why is this a big deal? Well, in the past (when she had hearing aids), it was not recommended for Hannah to attend a concert for the sake that her hearing could become more damaged (what little she had). The hearing aids also would have amplified the sound which would also pose a potential problem with her ears. When we went to her last check in at Sick Kids in August, we confirmed that now that she has cochlear implants, there is no longer fear of damaging her hearing, because the implant mimics the cochlea and the processors will help cancel out excess noise so that it isn't so loud for her. (I have a feeling she enjoyed the sound of the concert much more than I did...and she didn't seem to hear the roar of the people screaming in the Air Canada Center when we watched and danced to Pit Bull's incredible show).
The amazing thing about all of this is that she has access to an FM system to use when needed. She hasn't once needed it in the past 2+ years and yet, she is still able to hear (a lot better than before) her teachers and when students speak in class.
Some may not be aware that when Hannah sleeps or has a shower, she takes her processors off. When she does this, she is completely deaf. A few months ago she decided it was time to get her own alarm clock. Up until that point my husband or I would wake her up each morning. The alarm clock that we found that works best is one that has a disk that she puts between her mattress and headboard. When the alarm goes off the disk makes a loud vibration noise. We hear it in the house and she feels the shaking of her bed/headboard. We've tried one that turns on a light slowly (like the rising sun) but this didn't work for her at all.
Most mornings Hannah likes to get ready for school in silence. She comes downstairs to make breakfast and lunch and she cannot hear anything because she hasn't put her processors on yet. It's her way of saying, I am not ready to talk or listen to anyone just yet. :)
Just last week Hannah heard a song on the radio that she hadn't heard in a long time. She said, "It is so neat to hear songs that I listened to and loved before I had my surgery. Now when I hear them, I hear new beats, sounds and instruments that I never heard with my hearing aids". These are the moments to cherish. The gift that Hannah received with bilateral cochlear implants on March 5, 2021 is a gift she will always be grateful that she said yes.
I guess you could say that her decision was the best decision she has ever had to make in her life so far. She is grateful each day for the gift of hearing through medical advancements and tools such as cochlear implants and the technology that goes with it. She continues to be grateful for her team at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. When she goes in for appointments, she gets to see them and they always love hearing about how she is doing (and watching her grow up).
March 30th @ 8:56am (activation day)
Well it's the day! Listening to music right now, while writing this. (when I put my phone up to my left ear I can hear music - something I found out a few days ago). Once I get home from my activation today I am going to listen to music and see! Just remember Hannah, it's going to take time. Be patient. :)
March 30th @ 9:52pm
I just took the CI processors off & let's just say, today was a weird day. I had these beep tests that were uncomfortably loud. I also don't know if I like the Kanso 2 processors that I picked. I wanted them because there was no ear piece but they are bulky and fall off really easily. When I was getting activated today, my audiologist Pat let me try the N7s (the other kind with an ear piece) and they didn't feel as bulky and it felt more sturdy on my head. Because I am an active girl, I think the N7s will suit me better. (insert mom enthusiasm for knowing that Hannah knows what she wants and can make decisions without external influence)
I can choose the N7 still but once I try, I can't go back to the Kanso.
April 1st @ 9:51 pm
So I am on stage 4! (there were 4 programs for me to progress through the first few weeks). I am happy I can hear some voices again...but today is only day 3. (well day 2). I have officially decided that I am not keeping the Kanso 2s. They are way too bulky and they keep falling off. I got my grad photos back today to see. Mom ordered some!
I MISS EVERYONE AT SCHOOL!
GUESS WHAT! OMG OMG OMG
I am getting my N7s tomorrow. EK! I am so excited. I will update you on how they are! I hope I can go to school soon. Everyone keeps asking when I will be back. AWE I MISS THEM!
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH I LOVE THE N7s!
My confidence boost just went up! x1000000000000000000
I also love listening to music. I am hearing some of my favourite songs and there are parts I've never heard before. Now I like the songs even better.
They are so great! They stay on so well and less noticeable! I'M SO HAPPY! I CAN'T WAIT TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL!
I haven't updated in a bit. My audiologist gave me 4 more programs a few days ago and I am on the second one. I feel like I am now hearing a lot more than I ever did with my hearing aids. I talked with my surgeon and social worker on Tuesday (they are both so nice). I explained that I had no idea how much I was actually missing when I was wearing hearing aids. I am so happy I made the decision to go for it!
I was in the upstairs bathroom and I heard this noise and I was like, "can it be?" The window was CLOSED but I could hear the trampoline springs make noise when my brother and sister were jumping. My bathroom is on the 2nd floor of our house. I was SHOCKED!!!! Mind blown! (also the flush of the toilet was so loud it scared me!)
I am seeing a friend for the first time tomorrow because I am finally confident enough to see someone. (I've been so lonely) We also found out that we are NOT going back to school after April Break. Just when I WAS GOING TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL AND NOW WE DON'T KNOW WHEN WE WILL BE BACK! I can't even...
I want to go back so bad, it's almost summer and I am sad. Well I am happy but I wanted to see my classmates in person. Those are my updates for now. Talk soon!
March 22, 2021
8 days and counting. My CIs will be turned on soon. My brain is doing interesting things. While I am writing in here (my windows are closed and it is 9:20pm), I feel like I am hearing birds chirping in my head. It is weird but relaxing. My ears are not hearing the chirping but my brain is making me feel like I am - just like when I think I am hearing the characters on TV when I watch my favourite shows.
This is a busy week. School work, people are re-doing our roof with new shingles and I am getting my grad photos done on Thursday.
March 25, 2021
AGH, I HAVE GOOD NEWS!
Mom ran into a store after my grad photos and I wanted to stay in the car. I was trying to play a game on my device and it wasn't loading. I went on spotify feeling sad about the music that I used to listen to before my surgery. I miss music so much and surgery was already 20 days ago. I decided to press play and turned up the volume. I played Human by Christina Perri and held it up to my left ear. I heard the music and then I heard her singing. I COULD HEAR IT! ACTUALLY! I'M NOT KIDDING! So I listened for a long time today.
My mom wants to post the video of me singing when I found out I could hear out of my left ear...but I don't know what I sound like...maybe I will just go for it! We only live once. Video 1 is just a few minutes after I realized I could hear the music in my left ear and the 2nd video is when I really got excited about this! Hope you enjoy as much as I did.
I miss ALL MY FRIENDS SO MUCH!
5 DAYS...until activation day!
Video #1: learning I could hear music in my left ear
Video #2: getting excited about it all!
It's been a while since I last wrote in here. I've gotten so many gifts, flowers and cards! I thank every single person for sending them. Mom also gave me a book yesterday. It had all sorts of messages from friends, teachers, family and even some people I don't know (who know my mom). They all said different things of how proud they were of me.
IT WAS THE BEST GIFT!
I will keep you updated, but I also wanted to mention that I am feeling SO MUCH LIKE MYSELF! I even got to have a shower (to wash my hair).
So tomorrow is Friday & I am excited that I've been doing school work & reading my book.
Lately I've been feeling like I am hearing these noises or sounds. When I watch tv using closed captions and I know that it is muted (I can't hear sounds anyway right now), I still feel like I am hearing the character's voices as I watch. So weird.
But it is all in my head. I really miss music. Sometimes I just watch a music video with lyrics and feel the beat through the speakers. When I am in the car, if my mom turns up the music I like to feel the beat too.
On Saturday it will be 10 days until my implants (processors) get turned on. I am excited but nervous. Happy tears right now. ILY all (teen's lingo for I love you all).
Uncertainty, doubt, fears...all things that can sometimes stop us in our tracks. I remember reading many years ago a quote that went something like this: The real enemy to our success and growth is when we stay in the good because we know what good is like...but we never know how great things could be unless we take that leap of faith.
Hannah is taking a huge leap of faith today. She believes with all her heart that this is worth all the fear and uncertainty. She has big goals in her life and with cochlear implants she knows that they will help her reach those goals much better than her hearing aids could.
I found myself, the past few days feeling the fear, listening to the many doubts circling around in my head. They said things like: "Hannah is succeeding already, she speaks so clearly, she can hear people (even when they are wearing masks) and people tell us that almost everyday, maybe this is the wrong decision. What if new medical advancements come out that will allow Hannah to have her hearing restored someday?". My brain likes to tell me stories about the dark side of things quite a bit...but I've done a lot of personal growth to know that faith and belief may seem to come from a place of uncertainty and moving forward blind, but more than ever - it all comes from a place of trust and certainty that everything WILL be GREAT!
We know the next month will be pretty tough. We've read a lot to know that most people find the month after bilateral cochlear implant surgery to be very difficult. But what I do know is that Hannah is so RESILIENT. Even though she may have some hard days ahead, we know that she is so determined to always look on the positive side of everything. Some things are out of our control but our reaction or response or belief around all situations are all within our control. We get to write that part of our story! She has taught me this more than anyone...and I will continue to borrow her strength today and throughout the next weeks and months.
It is okay for me to let go and trust. It is okay for me to feel all the emotions (even the anger that covid rules prevent both Cam and I from being there to support Hannah before and after this life changing surgery at Sick Kids Hospital). It is okay to not know how things will go and to feel uncertain. It is also okay and healthy for me to take the reigns over my own journey in this; to be human & the best I can be, even if emotion sometimes tries to take over. It is okay to lean on others and ask for help. It is all okay. There is no rule book. Every single person who knows and loves Hannah is allowed to have their own story around it too.
We all write our story...what will yours be? We all get to choose good or great!
I am so proud that Hannah decided to choose to go for GREAT, despite her fears!
March 1, 2021
This is the beginning of my adventure!
I have emotions big and small all inside me. Right now I am actually listening to music while I write this. This is the week, Friday the 5th is my surgery date.
I am so happy and excited for myself! I have so many people supporting me. This will change my life. I can't imagine my amazing future! This is going to be the book I look back on, and smile that my 13 year old me made this life changing decision.
March 3, 2021
Well, look at how quickly things are moving! Today I had to take the covid test, but it really wasn't as bad as I thought!
Also the lady who did the test on me was the wife of the surgeon that is doing my surgery on Friday. I thought that was pretty cool.
March 4, 2021
It's already Thursday! Wow. Tomorrow it is Friday March 5th, the day my life changed. Like a fairy tale!
A good story. A happy ending.
Some family called today to wish me love and luck! I am go to be fine.
Love yourself. Stay Brave. You're gonna be okay!
Emotion....ah that word that is filled with all sorts of possibilities. At Moral Compass Kids we teach about the importance of allowing ourselves to feel and honour our emotions; that no feeling is bad or good.
Last week at the dinner table Hannah started off by saying, "no offense Mom, but I think it would be best if Dad takes me to the hospital for surgery". (Covid/pandemic rules at Sick Kids Hospital means that only one parent can accompany a child at each appointment and the thought of not being able to have both of us there, has been hard on us all). I smiled back at her and said, "that's ok, I understand", and I knew it likely had something to do with my emotions (even though I had been really good lately at holding my emotions in for her sake).
Here's where things start to play on my mind a bit.
Like I said at the beginning of this blog entry, I have always been an advocate, reminding people that emotions are normal and completely okay to experience and move through. I even have gone as far to believe that those of us who try to hold our emotions in too much, will result in something far worse down the road (personal experience). I've been told in the past, "don't cry, don't be so emotional" (and no, this wasn't my parents saying these things, they were perfectly okay with emotions as I grew up). What I've learned is that people say these things because they've been conditioned to refrain from letting emotions be shown to others. Somehow it has been seen as weakness rather than strength. When people say these things I believe it is because they are uncomfortable with it themselves. My children all know that I fully embrace the entire rainbow of feelings and emotions and I believe it is very healthy and strong to be able to talk about them.
So to get back to my thoughts on all of this...I've been trying so hard to be "strong", so even though I believe that it is healthy to share our emotions and to not hide them...I've been hiding them as an attempt to remain "strong" for Hannah in her upcoming surgery. However, the simple fact that she is choosing to have her dad go with her for surgery reminds me that even though I've not been showing my emotion around her, she knows that I am the one that would be emotional if I was sitting beside her in the waiting room that day. Here's the thing, whether I hold in my emotion or not, my children are all very in tune with the energy that comes without even having to say a word. I could look confident and yet my children can sense the fear and uncertainty in my invisible cues. Powerful right? We are all energy, we all send off signals that others can pick up if they are sensitive enough to.
This is a moment when I am reminded that it is okay for us to feel all the feels. It is also okay for us to talk about our feelings without it having to be too heavy for others. Speaking from our own perspective is healthy and courageous, and allowing others to do the same is just as healthy and courageous.
On Friday when my husband is with Hannah before surgery, I know he will be feeling all the feels too. He may exemplify certainty and stoicism and that is exactly what Hannah needs that day and it is perfectly okay. I am not sad that she wants her dad beside her...in reality, I know it is best for us all. I am grateful that as we raise our children that Cam and I both bring such a wonderful mix of personal superpowers to the table. Our kids know exactly what they need and they know which parent/friend/family member is best for each job. I believe that if we allow our children to speak from their heart, without us taking things personally, we are allowing them to be in complete alignment of their own journey and their own needs. Their feelings and decisions are valued and respected.
How often as parents do we step in and do what we believe to be best for our kids? How often do we ignore their requests and force our desires upon them?
This entire journey for Hannah has been one of so much strength and resilience. She has walked this path in full alignment of her own decisions. Parents know how tough it can be to step aside and let go of the control in all situations, but it helps our children grow and fly to allow them this choice.
Emotions are unique to us all, we all experience things differently, we all process things in our own time frame, we all make decisions based on how we feel and what we believe to be true (if we are empowered to do so). What I've learned is that even if I try to suppress my emotions to try to make others around me feel better...those who know me really well, know that I am still emotional (can't fool anyone), so allowing myself to show emotions at times isn't wrong or weak...it just shows that I am human in my own unique way.
What emotions are you trying to hold in right now? What emotions do you feel need to be shared with someone you love? Suppression isn't healthy, we are not protecting anyone just because we hold it all in. It is okay to let it be shared and if this is still not your thing to do, I am not shaming anyone at all. Some of us are built to hold our emotion in, some are built to let it out. No shame in it, the only shame would be in being critical of one over the other. If it feels good for you...keep doing what you do. Alignment is everything. When we force ourselves to be a certain way because we are trying to fit a mold in society that is where the true disconnect comes from. What feels best to you? Keeping your emotion in or letting it out? This is how you will know by the way it feels. I know I just feel better when I can share my heart. Emotion for me; when let out, helps me move through things so much faster. So it feels great for me to talk about it, to let it out. Thank you for reading this far. I hope we inspire you to consider how emotion affects you and how you personally process your own.
Being told your baby has something wrong with her, comes as a shock at first. Denial is common, anger, fear and the need to protect your child from the potential hurts down the road become your main focus. As I reflect back...nothing was wrong with her at all, this is part of her that makes her who she is. She is not her hearing loss, but her hearing loss has taught us all so much about true resilience.
Every emotion came up for us in the first days of learning about Hannah's hearing loss when she was 4 months old. At 8 months she got her first set of hearing aids and boy do I wish we had known to have a video of her first experience hearing my voice. It was magical...she lit up and tried to find where my voice was coming from, because I was behind her at the time she heard me for the first time...no visual cues. You see, children are so resilient. They adapt so well to what is going on in their world, it is often us as parents who learn from our own children just how capable we all are to rise above our challenges. This is part of human nature...we strive to survive and adapt!
Fast forward to today...she is now 13 years old (and yes I have so much more to say right now because many emotions are flooding back right now with her just days away from surgery to have bilateral cochlear implants.) Rather than writing a novel here in the first blog post, I will share my words from a Facebook live last week about where Hannah is currently. Hearing her confidence and certainty, helps this moma feel better. Interesting how things sometimes shift...letting our children take the lead in important areas of decision is so empowering for them and we learn so much as parents too!
Hannah went for her pre-op appointment on the 22nd and the next day she took a moment to write her thoughts down.
It's a mixture of emotions when I think of how quickly this is moving. Wow! I am getting my surgery on March 5th, that's soon! There are a lot of people supporting me and I just want to say thanks, this is a journey for everyone around me as much as it is for me. I will update and let you know how things are going. Thank you all again (from) my friends to my family and even the wonderful nurses, support staff, doctors, my surgeon for helping me feel so safe.
Stay safe everyone. Bye for now!