Thursday, February 9, 2012

That's Your Mommy!

We had a 9am appointment at NYU for Madison’s activation this morning.  Madison’s behavior and responses would dictate whether one or both of her ears would be activated.  She did extremely well and both of her ears were activated!  In addition to the NYU audiology staff, a representative from Advanced Bionics was present, as Madison was the first Neptune device activation at NYU.

The staff had already put the Neptune device together, with pink accent covers, which matched Madison’s attire just beautifully!  The magnet inside the Neptune device quickly found the implant and stuck to the outside of her head. Brian and I didn’t know what to expect for the activation...  We were told that she may cry, she may laugh, she may do nothing.  What transpired was a set of reactions similar to her sound booth appointments, but without blaring noises being pumped directly into her ear.  Instead, she was reacting to sound (and sometimes even turning towards sound) that was at conversation levels.

Activation - Left Ear

Everyone was happy with her reactions to the left ear, so they moved onto the right ear.  Again, Madison’s reactions were very similar.  She has always been an extremely attentive child – as we would expect since she’s hard of hearing.  However, during the appointments, it seemed as if she was trying to get everything in, almost on information overload.  She was extremely quiet and only said something once or twice during the entire 1.5 hours.  

Activation - Right Ear

The second half of the appointment was spent with our audiologist and AB representative going over the “two suitcases” we received that was full of equipment, parts, gadgets, etc.  There is a lot of maintenance that will need to be done throughout the day, as well as end of day.  Because there was so much to learn and digest on day 1 (not just for Madison), we will not be receiving/activating her Harmony (backup) device for a few weeks… where we will receive two more suitcases.

The devices were not turned on to full blast.  Instead, the first 3 programs they installed will introduce Madison to sound.  In fact, we need to head back tomorrow to get another set of mappings done…  then a third appointment the following week.  She will then return every month and receive an evaluation mid-May, where she will be put in the sound booth.  Following this evaluation, we were told that Madison would return roughly every 3-4 months until she is an adult – where she will than go for annual visits.  Yes, a lot of appointments for the little lady!!

In the afternoon, we took Madison to The Center for her daily speech therapy appointment with Jessica.  Before our session started, we were greeted by the entire staff - who were so happy to see Madison sporting her new implants! We started at The Center about 6 months ago, and today was really the first day Madison could truly hear sound.   Back in a similar environment, Madison was super-chatty during her session.  Responding to sound, playing with toys.  It was a wonderful seeing her so happy.

There is a long road ahead of us… Many days filled with tears of joy and many days filled with heartache and sorrows.  We look forward to enjoying many rewarding moments as Madison embarks on this journey to sound – many of which most people take for granted.  We hope to give Madison the strength she needs to overcome the many challenges that she will face as she grows older.   

February 8, 2012 - 8 months old!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

All About Madison's New Ears

Many of you have been asking us how Madison's implant will allow her to hear.  Here is a brief overview of how the cochlear implant device works.  Madison received an implant in both her right and left ears.  After much research, Brian and I decided that the Advanced Bionics system is the best choice for our family.  For more information, feel free to view their website:

A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf.  Cochlear implants can restore hearing in patients suffering deafness due to loss of sensory hair cells in their cochlea.  They can often restore sufficient hearing to allow understanding of speech in a quiet background, but the restored, electrical hearing is much less rich than natural hearing, and offers only very limited appreciation of musical melody, or speech understanding in noisy environments.

How Hearing with a Cochlear Implant System Works:

A cochlear implant system consists of two main components.  The external component, which consists of a sound processor (one worn on outer ear and the other worn discreetly on body) and a magnetic headpiece (worn on the head).  Madison will have two different types of processors:

Harmony Headpiece & Processor  - worn on the ear

Neptune Headpiece & Processor - worn elsewhere

The internal component is the actual implant, which delivers sound to the hearing nerve.

This diagram below illustrates how a cochlear implant will bypass the "damaged part" of the ear:

- Sound is captured by a microphone on the sound processor.
- The sound processor converts the captured sound into detailed digital information.
- The magnetic headpiece transmits the digital signals to the internal implant under the skin.
- The implant turns the received digital information into electrical information that travels down the electrode array to the auditory nerve.
- The auditory nerve sends impulses to the brain, where they are interpreted as sound.

Just 4 more days until Madison's new ears are turned on for the very first time! We have been looking forward to this day for quite some time.  Stay tuned for a video documenting the moment Madison first hears sound.