Monday, December 22, 2008

Amanda is hearing lots of new things!

SMOOCH!  "I heard that!"

Dad & Joseph: "Amanda!"
Amanda:  "What?"

Since Amanda's last mapping a month ago she has been hearing more and more each day!  In fact she just posted a new blog entry with photos of some of the new things she is hearing.  

It's pretty amazing since she has only been activated since August (4 months ago) and had NEVER EVER heard anything before. 

One of Amanda's goals for herself was to be able to have people call her name and have her be able to answer and say, "What?"  

After she posted her blog entry tonight, she was surprised to hear herself kissing her chihuahua, Goldy. 

Last week Amanda and I were playing cards and Amanda could hear the difference between 8 and ace!   They looked the same on the lips but she could hear the "t" at the end of eight and the "s" at the end of ace.

Check out her blog entry:  Deaf Girl Amanda

And below, if you didn't have a chance to view them, are two videos of us doing two elf dances; a Disco Elf dance and a Country Elf dance.  Amanda can more easily follow the music and dance moves since her cochlear implant.

The videos will be available until mid January.  Let me know what you think of our fabulous moves!

Country Elf Dance

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Monday, December 8, 2008

Amanda and School

Busy couple of days!  Amanda received an honor roll 
award last Thursday.  She often gets positive behavior 
recognition, but seldom realizes the same academic 
triumph.  So we were quite pleased, and of course 
attended the award ceremony.

The next day, parent teacher-teacher conferences 
were held.  Amanda is in 8th grade and rotates for 
8 periods among 7 teachers plus a speech therapist 
(4 times weekly) and an audiologist (once a week.)

Mr. Zarembka-Math         Ms. Maxwell-English                                   

Ms. Chute-Family Life         Mr. Branton-History

Mr. Tarpay-Science               Ms. Caustin-Speech & Language

Mrs. Gleicher-Reading

Her Adapted Physical Education teacher,  Ms. Hoffee was unavailable as was the
Audiologist, Ms. Rogan, so unfortunately, we didn't get pictures of them.  However, we maintain regular contact with them so we know how she's doing, but I would've liked pictures.

All of Amanda's core academic teachers (English, Reading, Science, History and Math) are deaf.  Since the focus of the school is on instruction through ASL, the SLP and the Audiologist support what instruction she is getting in the classroom.  

Amanda has only been activated less than four months and had NEVER EVER heard anything prior to implantation.  Hearing aids did not benefit her although she wore them diligently, especially in her early years hoping to hear something.  She began asking for an implant at age 10 and after major insurance battles, was finally approved for surgery just before she turned 14.

Both the SLP and the Audiologist have noticed improvement in speech production this school year.  And since her last mapping, we have all noticed a very positive effect on what she is able to hear.  She is increasing her accuracy and consistency in being able to distinguish between individual phonemes, words, phrases and sentences.

And she's immensely able to hear the ruckus that goes on in deaf classrooms.  In fact she sometimes acts as an interpreter for students trying to get deaf teachers attention. The student will yell out and Amanda will let the teacher know the student wants them. THAT would never have happened before.  So it's an interesting way to measure progress, but progress it is.

Monday, December 1, 2008

March for Equality-Signs of Change

This is not my typical posting regarding Amanda and her cochlear implant journey, but it is something that does affect her and the rest of our family.  Amanda has two stepbrothers: my sons.  One of them is straight.  The other one is gay.  We love them both and believe they deserve equal rights in all areas, including the right to marry whomever they fall in love with.  

We participated in the nationwide protest November 15th against the passage of Proposition 8 here in California November 4th.  Above are some photos of us at the Redlands City Hall.  

It was a heartwarming day and we met many diverse people from all walks of life, gay and straight, who were standing on the corner for one sole purpose; to support equal rights for all and to repeal Prop 8.  

I found this video on and decided to post it here because I think it really speaks to love and acceptance of all families and justice for all, not just for some.  

On a connecting note to the theme of this blog.....Amanda did hear the supportive honks of cars that passed by!

Signs of Change from Woven Essence on Vimeo.

It is not captioned, which, if you've been following my blog, you know that I caption all of my video clips.  

However, I listened to it several times and can tell you that at the beginning and at the end, the marchers are chanting, "What do we want?!"  "Equal rights!"  "When do we want it?"  "Now!"

In another part of the video the marchers are chanting, "Gay, Straight, Black, White!  Marriage is a Civil Right!" 

The music playing throughout the video is called, "Nothing In Between" by Stuart Davis.   The lyrics and his website are printed below.

Nothing In Between

from the album Something Simple

Stuart Davis 2008    

There is nothing in between us when we sleep

Every night the bliss begins to leak

Nothing in between us when we laugh

it’s something that our head will never grasp

It’s seen in between

There’s nothing in between your joy and mine

It’s all a lot of nectar on the vine

Joy is how my parents were entwined

and there’s nothing in between their lives and mine

We’ve seen

There’s nowhere to hide in the open Reality

Love is so wide, there isn’t a boundary

There is only one eye without any enemy

when you’ve seen in between

There’s nothing in between our skin and light

Nothing in between the wind and kite

Nothing in between our lips and grace

Nothing in between the tongue and taste

It’s seen


There is nothing in between you and I

Nothing in between blue and sky

Nothing in between us and love

Nothing in between wings and doves


There is nothing

in between

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Amanda's 3 months mapping-Video Clip

Here is a short captioned video clip (2 minutes and 52 seconds) of a portion of Amanda's 3 month mapping (11/14/08) to go along with the previous post below, dated November 16, 2008.

The actual appointment was about an hour and 15 minutes.

Amanda really likes the 3 channel program and has been using it consistently for a week now.  She's got less twitching and is able to detect as well as discriminate and identify more sounds.

We're optimistic and pretty satisfied right now!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Amanda's 3 months mapping

Daddy's Girl--Ain't she "sweet?"

Amanda being "kind" to her big brother, Joseph

Amanda took this picture of Gonzálo and me 
waiting for her mapping appointment

Amanda's 3 month mapping went pretty well.  Lalita, the Advanced Bionics audiologist was again working with Amanda's Kaiser audiologist, Fran to assist in giving Amanda the best possible programming for her unique situation.   I'm working on editing and captioning a short video clip and will post that when it's ready.  

Because of incessant facial stimulation, Amanda's surgeon, Dr. DiTirro had ordered an xray of her head last month.  We had it done last week and brought the results in with us and gave them to the receptionist, Claudia.  Dr. DiTirro reviewed them and let Fran know that nothing had shifted and her internal implant was right where it was supposed to be.

Claudia--the best receptionist ever.  She even signs!

Of the 16 channels available to her, Amanda has been operating on 4 active electrodes since her initial mapping 3 months ago. It was decided with Friday's mapping to turn off another electrode in one of her programs to see if the twitching can be more controlled.  She wasn't getting any auditory benefit from the 4th electrode anyway.

One of her programs, P2, was left as is and P1 was set similarly, with HiRes-S w/Fidelity 120, an IDR of 80 and a wider pulse width.  P3 was the program in which one more electrode was shut off so that she is now operating on 3 electrodes.  In order to operate with Fidelity 120, 4 electrodes must be active, so P3 is HiRes-S without the Fidelity 120.   

Amanda was tested in the sound booth with all three programs. She's still not getting much response in the lower frequencies on any of the programs.  Interestingly, her best responses overall were with P3, the 3 electrode program!  She got a response at 65 dB at 1500 Hz; 40 dB at 2000 Hz; 45 dB at 3000 Hz; 40, 35 and 30 dB at 4000, 6000, and 8000 Hz.

And detection of Ling Sounds with P3 was between 25 dB and 45 dB except for /u/ in which she had no response.  

So, true to form, no standard pattern fits Miss Amanda.  With more time, we'll see if P3 makes a significant difference in what she's able to hear and how the twitching is apparent.

She continues to love her CI and wears it all day until bedtime without fail.  Even before this last mapping, she is hearing more things including the RAIN, which she said sounds like Shhh.  

Gonzálo and I were playing mancala the other day in the kitchen.  It is a game in which you move polished stones (rocks) from one cup to the next one at a time in the wooden game board and drop them onto other stones. Amanda was in the bathroom and we were in the kitchen.  She came out of the bathroom and reported that she could hear us dropping the ROCKS.

Another new sound for her is consistently hearing the TURN SIGNALS in the car.

So progress is slow and marred with obstacles in the form of twitching, not being able to hear her own voice or low frequency sounds...but she's liking whatever it is she does hear and still wants to become bilateral.

As we were leaving the appointment and hearing towards the elevator, she saw her surgeon Dr. DiTirro walking down the hall ahead of us.  She said,  "I need to tell him I want another CI!" She waited until he came out of the bathroom and then told him she wanted a CI on her left side. 

He said he knew there'd been problems with her CI but that he'd need to speak with Fran about her recommendations regarding another CI.   Then we asked if we could take his picture and he graciously knelt down by Amanda, put his arm around her and  

Dr. DiTirro and Amanda


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Advanced Bionics Tour

On October 24th, we went on a family outing to Advanced Bionics in Sylmar, California which is about an hour away from our home.  

Amanda had been wanting to tour the plant where they made her cochlear implant ever since seeing photos a fellow blogger, Jennifer (Sweetpea) posted on her blog.  Sweetpea had toured the AB plant in June of 2008 and posted some great pictures and described them in detail.

Above is the spot in her blog where Sweetpea posted the photos.  If I knew how to link it by naming it, I would.  But at this point I don't.  You can still get there from here. Copy and paste and then look at June 27th and June 29th.

Everyone at Advanced Bionics was very gracious and we enjoyed our tour immensely! They reserved an accessible parking spot so that we could park close and Amanda's brother, Joseph could get out of the van with his wheelchair with ease.

They also hired an interpreter for Amanda who was very efficient and it was a good experience for her to have someone other than her stepmother interpret for her.  Plus it freed me up to take photographs.  They didn't come out great however, which is another reason to check out the photos on Sweetpea's blog.

Of the five photos I posted above:

#1 is of Amanda and me at the AB sign just outside the front door.

#2 is (from left to right) our interpreter, tour guide, Amanda, her brother, Joseph and her dad, Gonzálo.

#3 is of spooky hands getting ready to attack Amanda

#4 is of workers in a sterile environment putting components into the cochlear implants

#5 is what looks to be an older section of Advanced Bionics.  We didn't actually go into that building but saw it as we were leaving.  When I went to take a photo, a man wearing an AB name tag came out, so it is apparently still being used for something related to AB.

The only thing I had hoped to see but didn't was a whole stack of cochlear implants ready to put into boxes.  We did, however see the boxes ready for shipping, but it wasn't the same.

Probably what impressed me the most was how incredibly fine the electrodes were that go into the array.  They looked as fine as a spider web.  I took a picture but they were so fine that I couldn't even find it in the photo.

If you are interested in where and how Advanced Bionics cochlear implants are made, I highly recommend the tour!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What does twitching look like? Video Clip

Twitching!  What does it look like?

Curious about what Amanda's NAS (Non-Auditory Stimulation) or twitching as we call it, looks is a video clip.  It is just under 8 minutes long (7 min. and 58 sec. to be exact.)

In it, her dad is videotaping while I am testing her on all three programs with the 6 Ling Sound Test (Ah, Oo, Ee, Mm, Ss, Sh) as well as listening for Goldy's dog tags and clapping.  She wanted me to test her with the volume all the way up.  She doesn't typically keep the volume this high, but from time to time she does turn it up like this.

When the volume is lower, most of the twitching is not there, but the sound is quieter except for Ss and Sh which she seems to be able to consistently hear.

For you who have cochlear implants or are involved in those who do and want details about her programing, her current mapping is as follows:

Advanced Bionics 90K Harmony

Hi Res-S w/Fidelity 120

P1 (09/12/08)  T-Mic only IDR 70

P2 (10/10/08) T-Mic only IDR 80 (newer program with wider pulse width and increased IDR)

P3 (09/12/08) Mic/Aux 50/50  IDR 70

Although all electrodes are inserted into her cochlea, she currently only has 4 of the 16 electrodes active due to trying to control the twitching.

 We are still awaiting an xray of her implant to see if there is anything internal that is causing this twitching and we have an appointment with her audiologist and an AB audiologist on Nov. 14th.

Amanda likes hearing whatever it is she's getting and can distinguish some words based on the high frequency sounds she is hearing.  If this wretched twitching could be eliminated...


Monday, October 20, 2008

Jennifer's son, Trevor visits

Here we are at Disney's California Adventure where we had a few hours to play in the park with my son, Trevor.  He will be on the Disney Cruise Line on the Magic for  6 months.  So if you happen to be going on a cruise and end up on the Magic look for Trevor as Entertainment Host.

Behind us is Hollywood Tower of Terror as Amanda poses with Trevor.   In the next photo is Amanda's brother, Joseph, her dad, Gonzálo, me, Trevor and Amanda in front.

It was Amanda's first visit to Disneyland and California Adventure since her CI was activated 2 months ago.  She still can't identify any sounds but knows she hears "something."  If it's turned up a little too loud, she gets twitching.  If it's turned down to avoid the twitching, she hears soft sounds.  Sigh.  

Her next mapping is November 14th and an Advanced Bionics audiologist will again be in attendance to see if she can help figure out why the twitching is still present, why Amanda can't hear her own voice and to assist in finding an appropriate map. 
Amanda's surgeon has authorized an xray of her head to see what's going on in there (smile)  so as soon as we hear from radiology we'll get that scheduled.

Amanda continues to enjoy hearing whatever it is that she's hearing, wears her processor faithfully and has a positive attitude about the whole thing.