A Silent Health Care Burden in Ethiopia According to the World Health Organization, chronic ear disease…
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
On Little Man’s 7th birthday, we had a HUGE surprise in our lives. Our day started out as a normal birthday. At the crack of dawn, the phone rings and it is my mom. She is calling to sing to the birthday child. This morning was no different. As soon as the phone rings, I hear the birthday kid running 90 to nothing up the stairs to get to the phone. They look forward to the early morning call.
As the phone rang and Little Man burst through the door, I handed him the phone. I automatically put it to his right ear because that is which ear that everyone uses to hear the person on the other end of the line. Little Man looked at me and this is the conversation that ensured:
LM: “I no hear in that ear.”
Me: *slightly confused, still groggy because I had just woken up* “I’m sorry….what?”
LM: “I no hear in that ear.” *Bear in mind, I am still holding the phone*
Me: “I don’t understand. What do you mean you no hear in that ear”
LM: *gets in my face and grabs my cheeks and raises his voice* “MOMMY…I NO HEAR IN THAT EAR.”
Me: “Did you hear in that ear in Ethiopia?”
LM: “I no never hear in that ear.”
He grabs the phone and my mother proceeds to sing. I sit in my bed, confused. I talk to my mom and let her know what she said and she said that I should probably go and see if he has an ear infection. Little Man has a HIGH threshold for pain, so him not telling me that his ears hurt is really not that shocking.
We go and his ears are fine.
I make an appointment with the local health department to get an initial screening. They said that he seems to have some loss, go and get it checked further into but not to be too concerned.
I call and get an appointment with Murray State’s hearing clinic. I’ve worked with Susan Brown over the course of a few years, so we are familiar with each other and she is super good at what she does.
We get there and get the test done. She just smiles and says I need to go and see an audiologist. She said that he is deaf in his right ear.
I just sit there with, I’m guessing, a puzzled look on my face.
SB: He is deaf in his right ear and he is borderline normal in his left…but still normal.
Me: I don’t understand.
SB: He. Is. Deaf. In. His. Right. Ear. And. He. Is. Borderline. Normal. In. His. Left. But. Still. Normal.
*I must have looked like a bus hit me*
Me: Define deaf.
SB: Sonic bomb….he can’t hear that.
Me: So that’s bad, right?
SB: yes, but he is still “normal” in his left ear.
Me: Is this hereditary? My mom was born with a bone missing in her left ear and she had to have surgery to have a plate put in when she was in her 30s maybe. Could this be the same thing?
SB: *total look of confusion on her face* Uhm, is your mom black?
Me: Uhm, no..she is a fiery redhead.
SB: Then how could this be hereditary? Your son is from Africa, right?
Me: Yes he is…I don’t understand what you are asking…..*then the light pops on in my head*….oooohhhhh…..gotcha. Not hereditary..right, he is adopted.
SB: I thought I was missing something
So, we make ANOTHER appointment with Dr. Jones. Little Man is THRILLED that we are seeing “Dr. Jones.” We walk in and Little Man says “You, Dr. Jones?” Dr. Jones replies with a yes…..Little Man looks confused and he said “Indiana Jones?” Dr. J says “No, Shawn Jones.”
Burst his little bubble.
All in all, the tests were all the same. He has no hearing, at all, in his right ear. This was probably either from birth or from some illness in ET. We tried a normal hearing aid in that ear and it did nothing. It is hard to amplify a sound that is simply not there. So now, we do a CROS hearing aid. It is a regular aid in the good ear and a microphone (smaller) aid in the bad ear. The sound hits the small aid and bluetooths to the good ear and it is amplified. He still cannot localize sound, but he can “hear” when something is coming. It has worked really well for him.
I do not make him wear it daily, but he is wearing it more times than not. It is hard because he isn’t supposed to “sweat” or get it wet, so we have to be very cautious. The little aid, because it is not fitted into his ear, has a tendency to fall out, so we have gotten him fitted for a fitted aid in both ears. They are neon cause that’s how we roll.