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Sharing Stories

Lee’s Story

I took Lee in for a well child visit and the pediatrician was concerned that he wasn't talking very much. We didn't think much of it.  Lee has older brothers. Scot is 13 years older and we just thought with an older sibling and his parents in their forties Lee didn't need to talk.

Well I decided it would be best to see an audiologist and make sure there wasn't any HL. I was not ready for the words "Your son has a mild to moderate hearing loss, make an appointment on your way out and we'll see you in a month." It felt like someone threw a cold bucket of water on me. I was holding Lee's little hand and as I walked away I asked God, "What do I need to do now?" At that moment I believe I heard him reply. He said, "Get more information."

As you can imagine I was in pursuit of what we needed to do to help Lee hear. I was able to get a second opinion in two days. I needed to travel 1-1/2 hours but this mom was not waiting one month. The audi who did the audiogram was knowledgeable of Auditory Neuropathy and suggested that we have an ABR done to see if AN was Lee's hearing loss. Lee had a high bilirubin at 5 days old and this can result in a hearing loss.

We went to have the ABR done and the audi asked us after the test was complete how Lee heard at home? Well we answered sometimes he hears
us and sometimes he doesn't. Then the audi said we confirmed his suspicion. Auditory Neuropathy is a hearing loss that is intermittent. They liken it to a car stereo with a short in the speaker wire. You get static and some words. Hearing aides just turns up the static. Yikes.

We began interviewing surgeons and choose Dr. Driscoll at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Lee was implanted Sept. 16, 2002 and activated Oct. 20th. This has been an amazing journey. It has been fun celebrating language. We realized all we took for granted raising his siblings. Incidentally, if either of his brothers would have had this hearing loss they wouldn't have been able to get a CI until they were much older. Lee responded to his name immediately. We took him to the Gonda Building at Mayo where a woman was playing the grand piano. This was the first time Lee heard music. When we took him out of his stroller and he took my hands and danced with me. He smiled and I
wept. This is such a special memory. I still get teary eyed every time I share it.

Fast forward four years...Lee just got an upgrade to his speech processor. Cochlear America came out with the Freedom 1-1/2 years ago and they released it to the N24 recipients this past Sept. I'm very pleased to have chosen a company who remember their present recipients and make products that are backwards compatible with the internal device. Lee is doing very well with the Freedom. Shortly after he got it he was sitting in the kitchen and he asked me what a noise was and it was the refrigerator running.  One of the features is it is water resistant. He no longer has to take it off to wash my
car, or have a squirt gun fight. This has added so much to his life. Thank You Cochlear. We will be getting a new mapp next week. I think they will add mapps for the beam feature which helps him to hear in noisy situations, like restaurants.

I'm grateful for Lee's hearing and for all that we have learned. When we first got the dx I didn't want to face it. I remember feeling like I hadn't signed up for this. I had a friend tell me that I'd meet new friends and I felt like I didn't need any more friends. Well, I have met many people that I wouldn't want to be without.  It may have took me a little while to embrace this journey but now I see I'm truly blest. I desire to support others through their journey to hearing.

Anna Rueter


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Resources What is a cochlear implant?  What does insurance typically cover?  What are the ongoing costs?  Connect to our Resources page to view the only online clearinghouse of up-to-date cochlear implant information. CLICK HERE FOR RESOURCES
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