Wednesday, April 28, 2010


One year ago today, lil Ava's cochlear implants were turned on. One year ago today, lil Ava heard sound for the very first time. One year ago today, was one of the most exciting days of our lives....ever. One year ago, our fears were released and we could take that deep breath....I mean that deep in-the-pit-of-your-stomach breath, and just let it all go. And as the days went on, and seeing how quickly Ava was adapting to the implants and how quickly she was learning new sounds and verbalizing, each breath became much easier. Ava was going to be o.k. Ava is going to have a bright future. Ava is going to go to school, just like a regular kid. No, the journey is not over. But the ride has been mostly exciting and positive. We had to learn not to dwell on her deafness. Not to dwell on the fact that she needs special equipment on her head to hear. But to dwell instead on how well she can hear and speak. To dwell on the bright future ahead of her. To dwell on how Ava has really glued this blended family together, by having all her siblings eagerly participate in encouraging her to learn to listen and speak. And how we are confident that Ava, with all her happiness, zest for life and chutzpah, will have the ability to advocate and stand up for herself. We have set the bar high and we don't look back. Ava, we are so proud of you!
Here's a little video of Ava enjoying one of her favourite books..........

Friday, April 23, 2010

A little game we play

I have attempted many times to take a good video of Ava talking. But the little stinker never wants to perform as soon as I get out the camera! It seems like I always had that trouble even with the other kids. One of the kids will learn something really cool or say something amazing. But whenever I want to show someone else or get my child to repeat it in front of someone, they never do it! I was successful though this morning at capturing a little auditory memory game that we learned in therapy last week. It's quite simple. You put two familiar objects in front of your child. Then you get them to close their eyes and you quickly hide one of the objects. Then your child opens their eyes and you ask them "what's missing?" It took a few tries to get Ava to understand the concept of "missing". But now she wants to play the game over and over! Our therapist indicated to use only two objects for the first little while. Then, gradually add another object.

Here's the video. I attempted to add the captioning through the transcript option on YouTube. I apologize that the captioning is a bit out of time in the middle when I'm getting Ava to close her eyes, but then it eventually corrects itself. Enjoy!

And in case you were wondering what Ava's shirt says....."IT'S SO FUN TO BE ME!"

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Troubleshooting the cochlear implant equipment

Ava's coil failed on Easter. We noticed a steady flashing orange light blinking on her processor at the rate of one blink per second. This usually means the coil fell off and is not attached to her head. Or, it can mean that the processor is on the wrong ear. However, the coil was on her head and the processor on the correct ear yet the orange light continued to flash. We knew it wasn't the battery because the processor would show a fast flashing orange light. But nope, this was the slow flash. My husband hooked up the listening headphones to the processor and could detect good quality sound. So we knew it wasn't the processor. We got out the remote to troubleshoot. The remote indicated that "coil is disconnected from the implant" and displayed this picture:

which means the coil is no longer picking up a signal from the implant. The remote instructed us to check both the coil and the coil cable. So, first, we took the cable off the other ear and attached it to the faulty coil. Still got the steady orange flashes. Then, we took the good coil off the other ear and placed it on the processor and presto, the flashing stopped. Therefore we determined that the coil was faulty and not the cable. We went to our kit to get out a replacement coil. We found replacement cables; but lo and behold there were no replacement coils to be had! I found that quite odd, as we were given backup replacements for all parts (except the processor itself) with the Nucleus Freedom kits. Apparently the Nucleus 5 kits do not contain backup coils or magnets, only extra cables. A new coil costs $195! I did a brief survey of some fellow parents and some kits contained backups and some did not. It seemed most of those in the US had backups of everything, including a backup processor. Fortunately, Ava's coils were still under the 1 year warranty. Because it was a holiday, I couldn't do anything about it till the next day, Monday. Thankfully, Ava is a bilateral user, so she could still hear with one ear. I just can't imagine the thought of her having to spend a whole day without ANY access to sound whatsoever. On the advice of Ava's audiologist, I called "Hear Always", which is a division of Cochlear Corporation, which helps with troubleshooting and equipment replacement. I spoke to a kind gentleman, who confirmed the troubleshooting steps with me over the phone. I also learned that if we swiped the coil over the back of the remote, the remote would indicate whether the coil was receiving a sound signal or not. So cool! He arranged for a replacement coil to be fedexed overnight and we received it Tuesday morning. It worked! I felt so proud at figuring it all out. There were shipping instructions to return the faulty coil, at Cochlear's expense. All in all, it was quite an easy process and the remote was very simple to use. We do not use the remote on a regular basis but it sure came in handy this time!