Imagine being told that your child is profoundly deaf. What sort of a life will they have?
This is what happened to two and a half-year-old Joshua Shaw of Harrogate, YCIS’s 500th patient.
Joshua, who attends a local nursery school, underwent the cochlear implant procedure on his right ear in January, and the device was activated six weeks after the operation. Joshua came into the world via an emergency caesarean section following a very long labour for Mum Andrea. Shortly after his birth, he had difficulty breathing and developed a severe chest infection as a result. Joshua spent some time in the special care baby unit where he had a routine hearing test, which he failed.
“We thought this was probably due to his immediate health problems,” said Andrea. “But a few weeks later he had more hearing tests which he also failed. We do not really know why Joshua is deaf, and we will probably never know for sure, but it might be due to his breathing problems when he was born or as a result of a certain type of antibiotic he had to take.
“Joshua was originally fitted with bilateral hearing aids and, initially, we thought this would be adequate but further tests revealed that his hearing was worse than we would have expected. He went for an assessment which showed that he also had glue ear so he initially had grommets inserted for draining the middle ears.
“Another assessment revealed that Joshua was suitable for a cochlear implant.
“It was hard to make the decision about the surgery because it is a significant operation. But other parents who I was put in touch with said it was the best thing they had ever had done for their children. It was good that I got the chance to talk to other Mums and Dads. Everything was explained to us fully at the hospital prior to the surgery and we even had the opportunity to choose which implant and which colour he had. The actual procedure turned out to be very straightforward and Joshua was in the play room and running up and down the ward the following morning.
“Joshua is absolutely brilliant and the change in him is enormous. He has been transformed into a confident little boy. Previously, Joshua was very clingy when he went to nursery and could not stay focused, even on things he enjoyed.
“Now things are fantastic, Joshua has started to speak and is copying and mimicking. He is quite a show off with his cochlear implant and is quite proud about it.
“I would like to reassure other parents about this procedure, and I have been one hundred percent impressed by the work of YCIS.”
Ann’s hearing deteriorated over a period of time, until she became profoundly deaf. She explains the experience.
“Imagine, as a mother, not hearing your newborn baby cry, or not hearing your loved ones talking to you. Picture, if you can, the total isolation and the misery caused by being profoundly deaf. Slowly withdrawing from life, in order to protect your sanity and avoid misunderstandings when lip reading; the erosion of self confidence; the hurt and embarrassment when yet another person, tired of repeating something says, in exasperation ‘Oh it doesn’t matter’.
“But it did matter, it mattered a lot. I wanted to hear and be able to communicate. I didn’t want my family to live in the shadow of deafness and all its ensuing problems.
“Now I am once again a member of the hearing world thanks to the fantastic efforts of Mr. Raine, the Ear Trust and the team at the YCIS. A cochlear implant restored my hearing and my self esteem. Having the operation was scary and it took a huge mental effort to retrain my brain to recognise sounds. But the results are amazing and my introverted world has opened up to one of noisy enthusiasm.
“I can hear and communicate with anyone and everything a hearing person takes for granted, but to us it’s a truly life changing experience.”
Four year old Elliot is one of many children to be given new hope by the Yorkshire Cochlear Implant Service.
He became profoundly deaf after contracting Pneumococcal Meningitis at 8 months old. After having a cochlear implant for 3 years he is able to keep up with his peers in mainstream school.
He will continue to be supported by the team and by his local staff as he goes through Primary School. His mum, Rebecca said, “Elliot is absolutely fantastic. He’s doing great and we can’t thank the marvellous staff at the YCIS enough.”