'Not a Karen Day?' Tom inquired over breakfast.
'No it isn't' I confirmed. Karen days are fine (Karen being Tom's adored childminder) he just likes to know what's coming so that he can adjust his list of demands accordingly.
'Its a Tracey day!!' - Tom suddenly remembered what we'd been talking about yesterday evening. It has been a while since we've visited the implant team but Tom hasn't forgotten the drill.
'I say to Tracey 'Can I play with your cars please?' and Tracey says to Tom 'Of course you can'' Tom rehearsed this opening speech a few times before we got there and I scripted a few extra bits such as 'It might be nice to say hello first' while hoping that Tracey didn't fluff her lines.
I needn't have worried. Tom adores audiology sessions - these people with their fancy room, computers, loudspeakers and all those wonderful games. The simple truth is that it is evident to the audiologists (only one of whom is called Tracey. Susan sits in the booth doing her bit without getting any of the glory) within a minute of us walking in that everything is just fine. Despite it being close to six months I would guess since we were last there, Tom is immediately at ease and rabbiting about every aspect of the day thus far that has caught his attention.
The session involved a variety of tests on both ears and Tom concentrated for pretty much the full two hours although he was unable to stifle a yawn towards the end and we began to suspect he was sabotaging the exercise a little. The results were, however, fabulous. Tom is hearing down to the 30db level and is differentiating between similar sounds heard through a loudspeaker - 'horse/house', 'cup/duck' and the like.
I've said it before but its worth reiterating - these implants are an utter marvel.
Our route home took us past the hospital where Tom was admitted with meningitis and where we all spent those long tortuous days and weeks, not knowing where any of it would end or what we could hope for. I don't plunge into any kind of regressed depression when I pass there these days which is a good job considering how frequently we are nearby or visiting. I do think back though.
'That's Mr Twigg's hospital!' shouts Tom and I chuckle with a degree of relief. I'm sure Mr Twigg will be surprised to hear that it's his hospital but it'll serve for us. Mr Twigg is Tom's orthoptist - he has lots of funny toys he puts on the end of pencils that light up. We visit his clinic frequently for delightfully non-invasive, utterly routine tests and if that's all that comes to Tom's mind when he sees that hospital then its more than alright with me.
There doesn't seem to be any recollections of events such as these. I hope it stays that way and that when he reads what I've written here it will seem like a slightly scary thing that happened to someone else a long time ago. He is starting to become aware that he has 'special ears' and we are building his understanding as carefully as we can but the sad stuff that got him to that point is for us to carry and protect him from.
Apologies for the slightly reflective tone at the close - in the midst of the brightness that Tom's astonishing progress continues to be there will always be these reminders.