Thursday, June 08, 2006

Passing tests without looking

This morning we met with Nottingham's paediatric cochlear implant team for what I thought was a cosy little chat or, at least, an opportunity to bombard them with questions raised by endless researching and badgering. While there was a certain amount of that it seemed that there was a certain amount of assessing candidacy and potential going on with Tom being engaged in subtle 'structured play' assessments with a couple of very pleasant and astute speech therapists.

As is obviously the case with paediatric assessment, Nik and I were being assessed too. With the need to engage in a great deal of post-operative rehabilitation, the way we communicate with Tom was closely examined. It seems we fit the bill in these respects and another piece of the jigsaw slots in.

Seeing as the little guy was being unusually cheerful around medical professionals (we have come a long way - although they weren't carrying needles or wearing stripes), Tom had his hearing tested too; both with his shiny new aids and without. Other than a consistent response to low fequency, vibro-tactile sounds, Tom was blissfully unaware of any sound which left me with a bizarre feeling of having passed by having failed. Tom's hearing loss is profound - if it was only moderate we wouldn't be heading for the implant and would be 'left' with 'old-fashioned' hearing aids. How perspectives get skewed.

As it stands, Tom has one more test to do - the sinister-sounding 'Evoked Potentials' team will sedate him next Wednesday (14th) and measure brain stem activity to get an objective measure of the hearing loss (because, of course, Tom could just be playing an elaborate joke and pretending not to hear the sonic blasts they keep throwing his way. Toddlers are like that). We then see the very important Mr Gibbin on the 21st for results and decisions. As he's post-meningitic, Tom could be implanted before the month is out.

So, we wait and search round for proactive things to do. Tom has learnt his first few signs, mostly involving modes of transport (no gender imprinting there then), and Nik and I are even signing to each other when he's not around. We want Tom to have bilateral implants, the funding for which is down to our local PCT. Decisions on such things are a little unpredictable apparently so we're going to do a spot of lobbying ourselves.

Things look bright...just so long as Tom's cochlea haven't gone ossification crazy.

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