Monday, December 10, 2007

Not perfect. Not as bad

Mo has said it plenty of times since Hope's birth, and it was true again today: Her health is never perfect, but it's never as bad as we fear.

Concerns about her hearing were confirmed today when we bundled our girl up at 6:30 a.m. and drove 40 minutes on icy streets so audiologists could attach wires and probes to her head. Mo held her for two hours as Hope slept in a cold examining room while soundwaves were pumped through tiny earphones. Using EEGs, the test measured small differences in brainwaves during different pitches and sounds.

Hope flunked an earlier screening in neo-natal intensive care and a similar test found mild hearing deficiencies in her right ear and moderate ones in her left. Today, the results were worse: Moderate in the right; little perceptible reaction in the left. Normal conversation is 60 dB (120 for Mo.) Hope can hear at 80 dB. Hearing loss in adults begins at 15 dB.

It sounds crummy, and it is. But it could have been far worse. Hope's deficiency is a conductive hearing loss. That means the inner-workings of her ear are structurally sound and there's no nerve damage. Instead, something in the outer reaches of her ear mutes sound from reaching inside. It could be malformed or absent tiny bones, fluid or slow development that has kept the eardrum from opening.

The good news is it's treatable. We were referred to yet another specialist (three and counting.) This time, it's an pediatric ear-nose-and-throat dude who will take a harder look Monday. The recourse could be small tubes to open the canal, medicine that would drain fluid. hearing aids or surgery, which isn't likely anytime soon because of her size and age.

The solution, of course, depends on the cause. But none seem entirely permanent. The hope is she could grow out of her problem with a bit of intervention. But I could be making that up. I have a tendency to do that. I am a journalist.

We'd love to say we're surprised, but we're not. CdLS kids often have tiny ear canals that take longer to develop and prompt false positives for deafness.

It takes a lot to startle Hope. That may be because she's cool as a cucumber, but she's also the daughter of two people who aren't known for their meekness. We can scream. We have a barky dog. Our smoke detectors blare so much we take out the batteries about three times a week. The Girlmore Girls chat it up with pretentious dialogue on reruns every day at 5 p.m.

None of it has phases Hope. Curious -- and a bit sadistic -- Mo banged pots and pans together the other day. Hope twitched a bit. Mo thinks.

The silver lining is that it's good to get on top of this stuff early. Master of the obvious statement of the day: Hearing is important. It helps with speech. It helps Hope bond with us. It helps when you order Thai food.

So we need to tackle this soon. Hopefully, we can get a game plan after meeting with the ear-nose-throad dude on Monday.

There's a lot to digest all at once. I liked it better when there was so little report I posted dog videos. When we think about everything Hope faces -- heart, hearing, developmental and physical problems -- it is overwhelming. We have our tears. We feel like hell. We question God. We get mad and snap at each other.

But then we have quiet days like this and we remember why it's tough to feel bad for too long.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

WOW! Hope's head movement on that video was amazing. She's hardly a month old and she's already trying to pull her head up. SO Exciting! The hearing stuff is stressful, but the way she was so determined to get her head up is an overwhelming success and says a LOT about her. Go Hope!
Lisa, Brian and Liz