Unilateral Hearing Loss
One thing that is added to our plate o’ life is the fact that Little Man is deaf in his right ear. We had no idea. I mean, none. We had no idea.
His last birthday, in August, is when the realization that something was wrong became very evident. It is tradition for my mom to call the kids the morning of their birthday to sing a horrendous version of happy birthday. They literally sit by the phone waiting for it to ring. When she is late (or heaven forbid forgets) their hearts are saddened (no pressure Martha).
On this particular morning, Little Man came flying up the stairs when the phone rang. I handed him the phone, to his right ear and he said “I no hear in that ear.” I just kind of looked at him because I was still half asleep and I said “what?”
This is how the conversation transpired:
LM: I no hear out of that ear.
LM: I no hear out of that ear.
Me: Excuse me?
LM: I NO HEAR OUT OF THAT EAR.
Me: Baffled, confused, thinking I’m still sleeping…hand the phone to him to his LEFT ear.
Cue Martha singing and LM smiling ear to ear and he hands the phone back to me.
Me: Define “can’t hear”?
LM: *eyebrows raised* and “huh???” coming from his mouth.
Me: Did you hear out of that ear in Ethiopia?
LM: No, I no never hear out of that ear.
ME: Cue angels singing and it all comes together. He is VERY loud, says “huh” all. the. time. Seems that he doesn’t pay attention (because something is on his deaf ear). “Well, alrighty then.”
Seriously, what do you say?
I remember, before Little Man, I had prayed for God to bless us with a child, preferably from Africa, a boy, older, and deaf. My oldest is fluent in sign and I’m enough to be dangerous. Add that to the fact that older, deaf boys aren’t the “top choice” for adopting families.
The Lord surely blessed us with a healthy 4 year old boy from Africa and we were THRILLED! I was reminded of that prayer when I was telling a friend of his hearing loss and she said “do you remember when….”. I told her that I did remember and that I didn’t necessarily want *this* son to be deaf, maybe another down the road. *Face Palm*
All that history aside, we are SO blessed the Lord chose to give us this little slice of heaven with him. I would not trade him for anything. It has been a busy road of multiple hearing tests, cat scans, MRIs and such. We have been making sure there isn’t anything else wrong.
We learned that there are two possible places for deafness to occur. From the outer ear to the middle ear is spot one and then from the middle ear to the brain is spot two. He is deaf from the outside to the brain. That leads us to assume that he has been deaf from birth, which again answers a multitude of questions.
We fitted him for a hearing aid, for his deaf ear and that didn’t work. He is so stone deaf in that ear that the aid was just a nuisance. I thought we should just leave it alone because many people have unilateral hearing loss and are just fine. Their good ear compensates for the bad ear. We have started teaching him sign and he loves that, not that he will ever use it.
What got me was when he went to run across the parking lot and he didn’t hear a car coming…he kept running and the car kept coming. I have taught him that when we can’t hear with our ears what other sense do we use….our eyes. That is all well and good but I can’t scream “what else do you use when your ears don’t work” in the midst of a scary situation.
A less scary situation was when we were in a church setting, eating, and there were people asking him questions and talking to him. He was clueless. The people thought that he was “special” (he is VERY SPECIAL). I had to tap him on the shoulder and yell the question or I would sign it to him and then he would answer the people back.
All of this being said, we have fitted him for a CROS hearing aid. There will be an aid in each ear. The “bad” ear will have the aid in it and when sound hits that ear, it will bluetooth to the “good” ear and amplify the sound, while drowning out extra sounds. I don’t know if this will work either, but I owe it to my boy to try.
Being unilaterally deaf is not the end of the world. There are concerns because we don’t know what caused the deafness and we have to be ubber protection of his good ear. It sits right on the normal line. Any deviation from that line and he will move into the bilaterally hearing impaired area.
Here are some pictures of him getting an ear mold. He is the first child to be fitted with a CROS by this lady and in this office 🙂